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World

Syria govt raises bread, diesel prices as crisis deepens

  • The price of diesel fuel nearly tripled and the price of bread doubled on Sunday
11 Jul, 2021

DAMASCUS: Steep bread and diesel price hikes went into force in government-held parts of war-torn Syria on Sunday, bringing more pain for civilians in a long-running economic crisis.

Damascus has repeatedly raised fuel prices in recent years to tackle a financial crunch sparked by the country's decade-long civil war and compounded by a spate of Western sanctions.

The price of diesel fuel nearly tripled and the price of bread doubled on Sunday, according to the official SANA news agency, only days after Damascus announced a 25 percent increase in the price of petrol.

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"This was all expected and now we fear further increases in the price of... food and medicine," Damascus resident Wael Hammoud, 41, told AFP while he waited for more than thirty minutes to hail a cab to take him to work.

The price hikes coincided with a decree issued by President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday that increases public sector salaries by 50 percent and sets the minimum wage at 71,515 Syrian pounds per month ($57 at the official rate), up from 47,000 pounds ($37).

In a second decree, Assad raised public sector and military pensions by 40 percent, according to SANA.

A price list published by the state news agency on Saturday night showed one litre of diesel fuel will now cost 500 pounds, up from the 180 pounds users in most sectors were paying previously.

Mustafa Haswiya, of the state-run Syrian Company for the Storage and Distribution of Petroleum Products, said 80 percent of Syria's hydrocarbon needs are purchased from abroad using foreign currency.

"It was necessary to raise prices in order to reduce the import bill," SANA quoted him as saying.

The price of subsidised bread doubled to 200 Syrian pounds. The state-run Syrian Foundation for Bakeries said that the rising price of diesel fuel contributed to the increase, according to SANA.

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