Syrian authorities raise petrol prices to reduce subsidies further

Government revenue and the Syrian pound have fallen sharply since 2011

Traffic in Damascus on May 10, 2020. The official Syrian news agency said that as of Sunday, the price of a litre of petrol rose to 2,500 Syrian pounds (58 cents) from 1,100 pounds per litre. AFP
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Syrian authorities have more than doubled fuel prices in the latest move to reduce subsidies as state revenue falls. This comes amid the 12-year conflict in the country and rising prices for food and oil due to the Ukraine war.

The official news agency said that as of Sunday, the price of a litre of petrol rose to 2,500 Syrian pounds (58 cents) from 1,100 pounds per litre.

A round of price increases in January, including fuel, contributed to demonstrations in the southern governorate of Sweida, which is mostly inhabited by members of the Druze minority.

There have been other signs of discontent in the regime's Alawite heartland, including public protests which have been rare since the violent government clampdown on demonstrators in 2011, which sparked the civil war.

Other goods which the government increased prices for this year have been bread, sugar, rice, bread and fertilisers for agriculture.

Most crude oil in regime areas is imported from Iran and from regions in eastern Syria controlled by the People's Protection Units, a Kurdish militia that has kept channels open with President Bashar Al Assad's government. The regime operates at least one functioning refinery, but Iran also intermittently sends fuel shipments.

A World Bank report in June said Syrian government revenue fell by 85 per cent in dollar terms between 2010, the last year before the Syrian revolt, and 2021.

The revolt against five decades of Assad family rule broke out in March 2011. The authorities responded to the pro-democracy movement with violent suppression. Thousands of people were killed, jailed or disappeared, and by the end of the year the country plunged into civil war.

Millions of people have since fled Syria or were displaced to remote parts of the country.

The Syrian pound is trading at 4,250 to the dollar, compared with trading at 50 pounds to the dollar in early 2011.

The report said the government's foreign currency reserves "are estimated to have been almost completely depleted", compared with being worth $19.5 billion in 2010.

Updated: August 08, 2022, 3:10 AM
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