Amid rising food crisis in Syria Assad announces 50 percent hike in salary

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Syria is facing heightened food and fuel crisis amid the continuing conflicts in the country that is into its eleventh year of civil war. On Sunday, price of basic staple bread in Syria doubled while the diesel price approximately tripled. This is largely attributed to decade long civil war and sanctions imposed by Western countries. Recent years have seen consistent rising fuel prices in Damascus to counter the financial crunch.

To soften the impact on common man’s pocket, President Bashar al-Assad has announced a rise in salaries by 50 per cent in public sector. With this the minimum wage is set at 71,515 Syrian pounds per month from earlier 47,000 Syrian pounds. Pensions in military and public sectors too have been raised by 40 per cent. However, it isn’t clear where the funds would be sourced from for the same. An economist from Damascus said, “As long as there is no money entering the treasury, the price increases will continue.”

The whooping rise in fuel prices will force Syrians to shed out 500 pounds for one liter of diesel fuel as opposed to 180 pounds per liter that was for almost all sectors previously. Mustafa Haswiya, of the state-run Syrian Company for the Storage and Distribution of Petroleum Products said 80 per cent of hydrocarbon needs for Syria were purchased from abroad by Assad government using foreign currency. “It was necessary to raise prices in order to reduce the import bill,” he clarified on rising fuel prices.

State run Syrian Foundation for Bakeries noted that continuous rise in fuel prices has led to rise in bread prices too. Subsidized bread rate is now 200 Syrian pounds. On Sunday the pro-regime daily Al-Watan said the diesel fuel hike would cause “an increase in the cost of transport within and across provinces” by over 26 per cent.

Syrians are under fear of further rise in prices that might extend to medicines also. The US dollar trading officially is at rate of 2,500 pounds while in black market it is at 3,200 pounds. Decade long war, widespread corruption and strict economic sanctions by West are the contributing factors for hard hit Syrian economy. 80 per cent of Syrians live under poverty and 60 per cent are facing food insecurity.

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