Syrians struggle despite 100% increase in state salaries
With rapidly rising prices and the Syrian pound plunging to a record low of 15,500 to the US dollar last week, the people of Syria see little hope of improvement despite authorities announcing an immediate 100% increase in state salaries.
With much of the sanction-hit and conflict-stricken country’s economy pegged to the dollar, and a majority of the population living below the global poverty line, any drop in the currency imposes a wide impact. The pre-war rate of 50 pounds to the US dollar is now a distant memory.
Could Efforts To Normalize Relations With The Arab World Help?
Multiple factors such as western sanctions, domestic mismanagement, economic collapse in neighbouring Lebanon and a 12-year-long conflict have combined to worsen the economy’s plight. A monthly salary of 200,000 ($14) is barely enough for most families to get by.
Laith Arnaout, a taxi driver in Damascus, now spends most of his working hours arguing with customers about fares, which vary from day to day depending on the price and availability of petrol. Increasing fuel prices have compelled many drivers to keep their cars parked, he added.
A real estate agency has taken to social media to raise concerns over most tenants struggling to pay as rents continue to go up with the dollar. Growing anger about the situation sparked demonstrations on Friday in the southern province of Sweida.
Syrian Officials Blame “Rumours Of War”
Officials have been quick enough to explain the reasons behind the country’s worsening plight. Minister of Economy Muhammad Al Khalil said “rumours of war” in the region had “played a major role in speculation and recent inflation that targeted the Syrian pound.”
Minister of Oil Hassan Kaddour admitted Syria’s lack of resources, stressing the country currently imports 95% of its oil needs. Meanwhile, ordinary Syrians hope recent efforts to normalise relations with the Arab world would bring some relief. But it could take a while.