Syria's budget for 2021 ... gap that complements clogging stagnant economy

The Syrian Parliament approved the budget bill for 2021, amid popular discontent with the escalating economic crisis, and the government's inability to provide the most basic requirements for citizens.

After about a month and a half of discussing the financial statement of the Damascus government on the draft budget law for the next year 2021, the parliament (People's Assembly) approved the draft law in its final form on December 15th, with a value of 8.5 trillion Syrian pounds, and it has already become a binding and enforceable law.

The deteriorating economic reality reveals the truth of the government's decisions and previous budgets, arouses the anger of the Syrian citizen at the deficit that the government is suffering from, and which is no longer able to secure a decent living for them.  

Popular indignation

The approval of the budget for the coming year sparked anger among the general population who live in government-controlled areas, as citizens expressed on social media their boredom with rhetoric that does not work and does not secure them their living.

While the citizen "K.N" complained on his personal Facebook page about the salaries, and wrote: "All Syrian products, from a bunch of parsley to real estate, are priced on the value of the dollar inside closed rooms, with the exception of salaries and wages are still calculated on the dollar of 50 pounds since 2011."

As for the citizen "G. W", she says: "The government is incapable of providing any solution or option except for exerting more pressure on people who can no longer bear the situation."

Despite the allocation of 7 trillion Syrian pounds as current appropriations in the expense of next year, it is not expected that there will be an increase in the salaries of employees.

There are no indications of a salary increase

The economic researcher Dr. Rasha Seroub indicated in a study on the budget that the increase in current appropriations does not indicate the possibility of increasing salaries and wages, but rather the inclusion of the increase in salaries at the end of 2019 in the 2021 budget, which was supposed to be included in the 2020 budget.

Misleading answers

In the face of the dire economic situation in the areas under the control of the Damascus government, many inquiries were directed to the government through the People's Assembly, but misleading answers were present.

The Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection, Talal Al-Barazi, claimed in response to the interventions of the People's Assembly members that "the reality of the bakeries about overcrowding on the bakeries has changed by 70 percent twenty days ago to increase the number of sales and accredited people outlets. There are 294 accredited in Damascus, and we are aiming to increase their number to reach 420 in order to reduce overcrowding."

He pointed out that patrols have been assigned by supply controllers to control the trade in bread, and 169 controls have been organized.

The areas under the control of government forces are suffering from a shortage of bread, as Syria has turned from a country producing and exporting wheat to importing it, due to the citizens stopping to supply the government centers with wheat because of the low purchase prices compared to the high exchange rates of the lira against the dollar, and the agricultural areas non-subjection to the government's control.

On December 17th, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia has provided Syria with 100,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian aid since the beginning of 2020 and it intends to provide more.

Deep state that issues decisions on behalf of the government

An economic analyst from the capital, Damascus, whose name was not mentioned for security reasons, said that "there is something like a deep state within the state itself, its decisions appear through the government, but in fact it is the one that formulates decisions, sets prices and is called as economic committees."

He pointed out that the statements made by the government officials and implementers about prices and controls and the budget for the new year aim to polish the image of the corrupt through a media agenda whose mission is clear in this context, stressing that the statements cannot secure the needs of the people.

Budget difference

Although next year's budget of 8 trillion 500 billion Syrian pounds is almost doubled as compared with the budget in 2020 which amounted to 4 trillion Syrian pounds, it does not seem that it will make a difference from 2020, which in turn did not differ in the total value of the 2019 budget.

The official exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the dollar this year is 1,256 pounds against one dollar, while the official exchange rate last year reached 434 against the dollar, according to the Central Bank of Syria, and this is what makes next year's budget 27% less than the current year's budget.

In addition, the exchange rate in the black market when approving the budget for next year is more than the official by more than double, while the price in the black market decreased upon approval of the 2020 budget to 800 pounds, at its lowest levels since the outbreak of the crisis.

Penalties

The crisis that Syria is going through has caused the destruction of the economic structure in the country, especially in the government-controlled areas that witnessed violent battles between government forces and gunmen, and mercenary groups that later showed their subordination to Turkey and were turned it into mercenary groups fighting for Turkey in Libya, Karabakh and other areas.

The destroyed economic structure casts a shadow over the Syrian economy and the living situation of the citizen who in turn faces a significant drop in salaries, in addition to the spread of unemployment due to the collapse that the country has been experiencing since the beginning of the crisis in 2011.

In this context, the economist affirms that the sanctions that targeted the Central Bank, individuals and institutions associated with the government have directly affected the people more than those officials who live in unprecedented economic conditions since they have benefited from the war which turned them into "war merchants" through smuggling operations, price control, etc.

The U.S. Treasury Department recently imposed new sanctions on Syria, adding "two individuals, nine commercial entities and the Central Bank of Syria to the sanctions list."

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement quoted by "Reuters": The United States "will continue to seek accountability for those who prolong this conflict."

Syria has been subject to sanctions by the United States and the European Union, which have led to the blockage of foreign assets owned by the state and hundreds of companies and individuals. Washington already bans exports to Syria and Americans' investment there, as well as investments related to oil and gas products.

The economic expert from Damascus believes that the sanctions have a clear impact on the loss of basic food and medicine supplies, in addition to the deterioration of the living and economic situation of the Syrian citizen.

While effective solutions are pending, discontent, popular anger and boredom at speeches that do not work remain overwhelming.

D.H

ANHA


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