News of a salary increase usually monopolizes the attention of Syrian citizens. Their past experiences with this issue, however, have changed their reactions to it. Whenever they hear talk of such increases, citizens become certain that prices will increase several fold, immediately following the salary increase.
There has been much talk about a salary increase recently—this time not from citizens, however, but from a host of official personalities and sources. Some of them even come out to publicly confirm an imminent, and inevitable, increase; only to deny it a few hours later.
Who Will Benefit from an Increase?
It is a known fact that government employees are usually the main beneficiaries of the increase, in the event it becomes approved. Even so, it seems they do not want it.
Samira, an employee in the Water Authority, tells Rozana: "We used to wait impatiently for the increase. Now, we do not want it. We are afraid whenever news of an increase become more frequent." She confirms that rumours of a salary increase have been circulating for a few months now; meaning the prices will rise before it happens, then double again after it has been approved.
Asaad, an employee of a government-owned bank, on the other hand explains that "since the month of Ramadan, there had been talk about the salary increase. What has actually happened, however, is a price increase only with subsidies partially lifted for items such as sugar, bread, and fuel oil." He adds that water and electricity rates rose, even before the alleged increase has even been approved.
He believes that the government regime ought to adjust prices, rather than allow for increased dissemination of rumors and false salary increases that only serve to overburden the citizen.
The Most Oppressed!
Abu Thaer, working in carpentry, says that the current situation in Syria has greatly influenced his work. He has started selling vegetables on a cart next to his house, to make ends meet.
The man explains: "Whatever I make from the sale of vegetables is barely enough to secure food for my children and pay for bills. So, how will I be able to manage if prices rise due to the salary increase?" He says that employees are partially affected by it, but professionals such as him will be "consumed by the burning fire of rising prices," as he puts it.
An economist, speaking on condition of anonomity, tells Rozana that the increase is inevitable; but what is surprising is that it has not been issued to date. This is especially strange, given the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection's latest decisions, partially lifting subsidies of bread, sugar, and rice; as well as raising the price of diesel fuel, gasoline, and circulating a coming gas price increase; the drop in the value of the Syrian Pound; and the decline in citizens' purchasing power.
The latest rumor about the salary increase, came from a member of the regime's People's Assembly in a press statement, in which he said: "There is a proposal that has been submitted to the highest authorities, reqeusting a salary increase of 35%," stressing that it will be issued within a very few weeks.
The Parliamentarians words come into direct conflicts with the words of a government official, who denied to the Al-Watan newspaper close to the regime, the existence of any salary increase in the current conditions, especially.
Economists Syrians had called for a salary increase, as a response to the deteriorating economic reality experienced by citizens; considering this option a must.
The Parliamentarian's statement was preceded by talk from sources in the regime government's Ministry of Finance about "the ministry [having] completed its study of a draft decision to increase the salaries of workers in the state." The sources added to the speculation about the possibility of the adoption of the government of the salary increase for workers in the state, by saying it was "a nearly 50% chance." None of that has materialized, though.
According to data issued by the Ministry of Finance, annual salaries for government employees amounted to about 609 billion Syrian Pounds. If the ongoing rumours prove true and the salary increase is approved, even if we assume it to be only a 50% increase; the state treasury stands to spend 305 billion Syrian Pounds on such increase.