As the urgent economic consequences of the UAE Foreign Minister’s visit to Damascus are heavily promoted in pro-regime media, the upcoming few months will be increasingly more severe for Syrians.
It is understandable, why the regime is trying to exploit the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister from an economic point of view, as it is trying to prolong the Syrians’ “patience” with their collapsed livelihood, by convincing them that the economic “recovery” is just around the corner.
Some examples and figures provide a more accurate picture of Syria’s economic landscape today. The area of tobacco-cultivated land in the al-Ghab Plain (Hama governorate) has decreased by less than half, in just one year. Vegetable and fruit cultivation fell by 60 to 70 percent, according to a statement by a union official.
The repercussions of lifting subsidies on the cost of living were more pronounced. Last July, the increase in the price of subsidized gasoline was reflected in the monthly transportation costs of the family of three people using taxis in Damascus, by 138 percent, to reach about 100,000 Syrian pounds per month – the minimum wage is 71,000 Syrian pounds per month.
The rise in the price of gasoline and the doubling of the price of bread in July led to a 40 percent increase in the cost of the food basket, which reached 766,000 Syrian pounds. Between July and September this year, the average cost of living for a family of five in Damascus jumped by nearly 50 percent, to 1.7 million Syrian pounds. The monthly minimum wage covers less than 4 percent of living costs.
The above-mentioned summary findings, which are more detailed in the above-mentioned policy brief, mainly addressed the results of the surge in the price hike of fuel products and some subsidized items such as bread, last July. These results may allow us to imagine what will happen to the monthly cost of living of Syrians following the recent wave of price increases for fuel, which was set by the regime 10 days ago. Subsidized prices for domestic gas were raised by 130 percent, industrial gas by 300 percent, and electricity by 100 to 800 percent.
In light of the above, Syrians living in regime-controlled areas cannot count on positive economic outcomes stemming from the imminent re-opening of Arab countries to the Assad regime, regardless of what pro-regime media promotes. On the contrary, the Syrian people must prepare for yet another significant decline in their purchasing power. This reality means that the [Syrian] economy will contract further and production will slow down -within a year from now, at the very least.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.