Early Wednesday, Syria's president doubled public sector wages and pensions as its national currency plunged further, reaching a new low.
Just before midnight Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar Assad issued these two decrees as the Syrian pound's value against the dollar plummeted from 7,000 to 15,000 pounds to the dollar, a new all-time low. When the conflict started in 2011, the dollar was worth 47 pounds.
Damascus has been restructuring its subsidies for gasoline, diesel for heating, and bread for over a year now. At the launch of the restructuring in February last year, Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous said the move to scale back fuel subsidies would allow the program to target the poorest families more effectively while reducing the Syrian state's deficit.
Syria hiked fuel prices Wednesday after Assad's decree, further cutting state subsidies, despite not affecting wheat or bread subsidies.
In a speech given to Syria's parliament late last month, Arnous warned that financing government spending through debt and borrowing from the central bank is not sustainable, stating that the national economy is in a state of extreme instability.
Assad raised civil service salaries by 30% in December 2021, the last wage hike in Syria.
According to Sam Heller, a fellow at New York-based think tank Century International, the increase in wages might provide immediate relief for Syrians, but it would only be temporary.
"It is likely to worsen Syria's currency's continued depreciation by fueling inflation," he said.
Fuel and produce prices rose hours after the decree was issued, as public discontent over the dire economic situation worsened, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Since 2019, Syria's currency has depreciated, further exacerbated by Lebanon's economic meltdown and Covid-19. However, recent wage hikes and a huge government payout to this summer's wheat harvest have increased the amount of money circulating.
Following fuel price increases and the recent depreciation of the Syrian pound, Karam Shaar, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Newlines Institute, told the AP that the (wage) increase is all but lost. In a month or two, (it) will fully impact local (market) prices.