Damascus government's decisions increase burden on citizens

Instead of making its decisions in the interest of the Syrian people and securing a decent life for them in light of the difficult circumstances that they are going through, the Syrian government issues from time to time decisions that increase burden on citizens and increase influence and control of the forces supporting it in controlling the Syrian economy.

The decision issued by the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection to set cement prices caused an increase in real estate prices, which makes it difficult for citizens to buy and rent homes.

In the last half of December of last year, the Syrian government issued a decision to raise the price of cement by 80%.

The price of a ton of packed and excessive cement produced by the factories and companies affiliated with the General Corporation for Cement and Building Materials reached 70,000 Syrian pounds before the decision, and according to this decision, the new price reached 125,000 Syrian pounds.

According to the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection, the decision was based on "the recommendation of the Economic Committee" and based on the Ministry of Industry letter dated 12-16-2020, which includes production costs.

This increase in the price of cement was not the first during the past year, as it was preceded by the increase in August, from 64,000 Syrian pounds per ton to 70,000 Syrian pounds.

Popular indignation

Although the General Cement Corporation said that the urban movement in government-controlled areas will revive despite the increase in cement prices, as well as the Contractors Union's assertion that raising the price of cement will not affect more than 2% on real estate prices, while this step has met citizens' discontent, with the impossibility of buying new homes in light of the deterioration of the value of the Syrian pound's exchange rate against hard currencies, as the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the dollar reached about 2,900 pounds per dollar.

The average price of a prefabricated apartment in government-controlled areas is about 50,000,000 Syrian pounds, but in return, government employees and workers in the private sector receive very small salaries, which amount to an average of 50,000 pounds per month.

Based on these data, it takes about 80 years for a citizen to own a prefabricated apartment.

In this context, the citizen "L.M." said that he owns an unequipped apartment of 112 square meters which needs to be clad.

He pointed out that in order to be able to equip this apartment, he needs at least 15,000,000 pounds, and said that he intends to sell it because he does not have the amount for getting the house ready.

As for "T. S", a doctor in a government hospital, that is, she is a first-class employee and spent more than 20 years of her life researching and studying, she says that she needs "a light year" in order to be able to buy an apartment in the suburb of the capital, Damascus, with her monthly salary that she gets from the government.

For his part, the citizen "H.F" asked about the party that facilitated the exit of the director of Al-Omran Foundation Branch in Tartous, Ahmed Al-Sayed, carrying 20,000,000,000 Syrian pounds from the airport terrace outside the country? He said in a colloquial tone "Push comes to shove of some poor employees whom they have arrested."

He emphasized that the dream of every Syrian at the present time is to have a roof to shelter them in light of the suffering they are experiencing.

The director of the branch of Al-Omran Corporation in Tartous, "Ahmed Al-Sayed," was relieved from his post due to direct and unconfirmed sales to merchants, but he left the country legally on December 10, 2020.

Real estate expert: Cement is only available on the black market in light of administrative corruption

A real estate expert from the capital Damascus (whose name was not disclosed for security reasons) confirmed that cement is only available on the black market, and its prices are doubled.

He pointed out that the reason for the lack of cement availability on the black market is due to the insufficiency of the government product and its poor distribution due to rampant administrative corruption in government institutions.

The expert pointed out that the decision to raise the price of a ton of cement to 125,000, and that its availability only on the black market at double prices means that construction costs will increase by more than 50%.

He explained that the cost of a square meter of an unequipped residential apartment has reached the limits of 200,000, and this in turn is reflected in the price of the property, whether it is residential or commercial, and concluded: "The real estate market has become limited to a few Syrian expatriates."

The intervening forces' influence

This decision restored the so-called "Economic Committee" to the facade, as this committee was formed in July 2017 based on a decision issued by the Presidency of the Ministers Council, and it includes the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade as head of the committee, a number of ministers, including the Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Minister of Administrative Development, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Minister of Industry, Minister of Finance, Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection, Minister of State for Investment Affairs and Vital Projects, Chairman of the Planning and International Cooperation Authority, Head of the People's Organization or Professional Syndicate or the "Concerned" Federation, a Representative of the General Secretariat of the Ministers Council's Presidency as Secretary and Rapporteur.

This committee responsible for making the decision to raise the price of cement had previously taken a decision to prevent the import of iron, and claimed that its decision came in order to protect the national industry with local production in accordance with the highest international standards, based on a study submitted by the Ministry of Industry in the government.

He explained that the agreement signed by the government with Russia in 2018 in the field of iron included the establishment of factories in the field of iron smelting and related matters, which means that these factories are ready to supply the Syrian market with these materials, and the government has restricted the iron trade in previous years to traders known for their internal and external connections.

In the conclusion of his speech, the economic researcher emphasized that the government aims, by the decision to prevent the import of iron, to evacuate the Syrian market of these materials to be limited to Russian companies only, as these materials are known to have difficulty entering Syria, especially after international sanctions against them under the Caesar Act which imposes penalties on all who conclude contracts relating to reconstruction or construction and engineering projects in areas under the authority of the government and its allies.



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