Arnous Announces End of Subsidies on Rice and Sugar

The subsidies had been halted since the beginning of 2023 without any prior official announcement, Kasioun says.

Prime Minister Hussein Arnous announced the discontinuation of subsidies on rice and sugar during the People’s Assembly session held on January 21st. The subsidies had been halted since the beginning of 2023 without any prior official announcement and the distribution of these commodities via smart cards ceased.

Arnous emphasized, “We do not encourage harm, and we will not provide support for anything that may cause harm to individuals,” sarcastically referring to sugar. He expressed his firm belief in the government’s role in supporting local products and alternatives like beans, lentils, and bulgur, as reported by loyalist websites.

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The Prime Minister revealed that the Syrian Trade had acquired 50,000 tons of wheat to produce bulgur, signalling a shift in government policy toward cutting subsidies on all imported consumer items. He highlighted the redirection of government support towards local production, including the subsidization of lentils at 3,000 Syrian pounds per kilo and direct support to livestock breeders, aiming to positively impact the dairy and cheese industry.

Critics find the justifications for lifting subsidies on sugar and rice unconvincing, arguing that these essential consumer goods have been supported for decades to benefit the citizens, not the importers. Despite official promises to expand the list of subsidized staples, the announcement contradicts these commitments.

Ending subsidies on rice and sugar does not mean citizens will cease consuming them, as they are essential commodities. Rather, it exposes consumers to the exploitative practices of importers, creating vulnerability in both imports and the market.

The Prime Minister’s announcement to the People’s Assembly signifies the official elimination of subsidies on rice and sugar, marking the beginning of what critics describe as unjust economic policies. These policies, coupled with past government decisions, have resulted in a majority of citizens facing food security challenges. Despite high rates of food insecurity, official policies persist in perpetuating injustice against citizens, extending beyond the reduction of subsidies.

 

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.

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