On Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree granting hundreds of thousands of public sector workers and soldiers a one-time financial stimulus, equivalent to an average monthly salary.
The stimulus — the third since October — comes as the national currency is crashing, now at 4,000 Syrian pounds to the dollar on the black market, compared to 700 a year ago. The official rate for the dollar is fixed at 1,256 pounds for 1 dollar.
Nearly 80 percent of Syrians live in poverty, and 60 percent are food insecure — the worst food security situation ever seen in Syria, according to the United Nations.
The decree stated that a one-time payment of 50,000 pounds, which is equivalent to 11 dollars on the black market, would go to public sector workers, including those on part-time contracts and conscripts. A payment of 40,000 pounds would also be dispensed to pensioners.
Inflation has hit between 180 percent and 300 percent, according to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics. The price of one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of sugar has gone from Syrian pounds to around 2,400 this year.
A billion pound stimulus package
Economist Ziad Ghosn said that the one-time payment is equivalent to the average monthly salary and estimated the cost of the stimulus package would be around 120 billion pounds. He also estimated the stimulus would reach about 2 million people.
Syrians have been struggling with deteriorating economic conditions, shortages of basic goods and medicine, and have been forced to wait in long lines to buy subsidized bread and fuel.
A decade of conflict has caused huge devastation to the Syrian economy, isolated its government and displaced its people, driving most of them into poverty. The pandemic restrictions have added to pressure on the economy, compounded by the financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon, which has been a bridge to Syria economically and financially.
More than half a million people have been killed in Syria’s ten year conflict that has also left the country’s infrastructure in ruins and most of its oil and agriculture resources outside of government control.
This article was 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.