An economic expert has warned the Assad regime against lifting subsidies on gasoline, saying that if approved it will have economic consequences on the lives of Syrian citizens, and will lead to an increase in prices of all goods linked to fuel.
Omar Youssef told Al-Iqtissadi: “Raising the price of gasoline will directly lead to an increase in the cost of transport, and traders will take this as a pretext to increase food prices. It will also create a black market in gasoline through the well-known system of corruption in Syria.”
The Car Is Not a Luxury
Youssef denied that the car was a luxury or symbolic of luxury, saying that it was a normal right for citizens and that there were many people who needed them because their houses were in remote locations or perhaps they used them for work. Limiting them to 120 liters will not be enough—that is, lifting subsidies will not only affect the wealthy, but will also impact other segments.
He said: “If government subsidies on gasoline are lifted, the citizen will face two choices: Either he submits to the decision and buys gasoline at the new price, which the state will set later, or he will set his car aside and return to public transport, which will create traffic and other problems and will make citizens hostage to the prices set by taxi drivers.”
Standards Don’t Meet Global Standards
Regarding the rumors about the gas price being made in line with global prices, the economic expert noted that: “The standards of Syrian gasoline do not meet the gasoline standards of neighboring countries, but its price is higher.”
He said: “Syrian gasoline, in its highest range, does not exceed an octane rate of 88 percent, according to government statements, a low rate, considering that the new price proposed by the government is 9,500 Syrian pounds for a tank of gas. In neighbouring Lebanon, the price of a tank of 95 octane gas, according to the exchange rate, is about 9,500 pounds, and 10,500 for 98 octane.”
Youssef said that lifting subsidies on basic goods, especially energy-related goods, was unacceptable. Individual incomes needed to be improved so that people could survive.
Youssef added that: “The government’s continuing threat to lift subsidies from citizens will have psychological consequences as well, especially in this period—that is, a period of foreign economic sanctions. The Syrian people are not against lifting subsidies, but only with improved incomes and living standards to enable them to continue living.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.