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Syrian Regime Increases Gasoline Prices, Rations Internet Usage

Syrian Regime Increases Gasoline Prices, Rations Internet Usage

Monday, 2 March, 2020 - 09:45
Syrians queue to buy bread from a bakery in Aleppo (File photo: AFP)

The Syrian Ministry of Communications and Technology began Sunday implementing a decision on Internet rationing, which would result in a rise in the costs of usage.

The government also, and without any prior notice, decided to increase the price of gasoline by SYP25/liter all over Syria, reaching SYP250/liter, as the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar stands at SYP1030.

Inflation is already high, but observers expressed fears of soaring prices after the hike in the price of gasoline.

In an attempt to appease the country’s poorest and most vulnerable population, a decree was issued on a SYP20,000 increase in the salaries of the families of “martyrs,” the missing and soldiers and policemen suffering from huge disabilities.

Internet usage was rationed, which despite its bad shape,is the only means for Syrians to stay connected amid severe power cuts, a stifling domestic gas crisis, and the deterioration in the purchasing power of more than 85 percent of the Syrian people living below the poverty line.

The Ministry of Communications and Technology began applying the new mechanism for rationing Internet usage by setting a threshold for the use of ADSL. If the user exceeds usage limit, speed is reduced.

Immediately after the announcement of the new mechanism, a storm of criticism erupted.

MP Nabil Saleh warned against its consequences, saying that he, and 10 other parliamentarians, submitted a request to interrogate Minister of Communications Iyad al-Khatib.

Saleh wrote on his Facebook page that the Ministry is looking for profits without heeding the economic and psychological consequences that its decisions would have on the people, who have been suffering from a devastating war, soaring inflation, and the loss of basic necessities and living standards.

Former Minister of Communications Amr Salem responded angrily to Saleh, defending the new decision, saying the law targets users who “unfairly” use the Internet, and exchange hundreds of videos daily.

Saleh failed to collect 10 signatures to question the Minister of Oil for depriving a large segment of the Syrian people from cooking gas. He wasn’t either able to collect enough signatures to interrogate the Minister of Internal Trade for further worsening the people’s difficult living conditions.

But the lawmaker was successful in gathering 10 signatures to interrogate the Minister of Communications over the Internet usage limit.

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