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Syria Slashes Gasoline Subsidy, Boosts Public-Sector Salaries

Syria has raised prices of gasoline and other petroleum products again, officials and state media said on Wednesday, as the government gradually lifts subsidies to boost public finances in an economy strained by an over decade-old war, Reuters reports.

The hikes took effect after midnight and came as the government announced a 100 per cent hike in public-sector salaries and pensions to help the population absorb rising living costs and the impact of subsidy cuts.

The government has been increasing public-sector pay sharply, but it lags hyperinflation that continues to spiral with a record depreciation of the local currency.

Officials have, over the last two years, been saying that a phased lifting of hefty, across-the-board subsidies of bread and gasoline and its replacement by the introduction of a smart-card ration system will improve the corrupt and wasteful supply chain and ease chronic shortages.

They had said the ration system delivers efficiently to those who truly need it and would help the poorest in a country where salaries and subsidies account for the bulk of state spending.

Economists say the authorities, who have become increasingly unable to maintain high subsidies, are now facing rising pushback over worsening living conditions.

There have been several minor protests in the last month over plunging incomes in coastal areas that are the strongholds of President Bashar Al Assad supporters.

Source : Middle East Monitor