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Damascus Raises Price of Bread

Damascus Raises Price of Bread

Saturday, 31 October, 2020 - 07:15
Men seen in iron cages. The images have sparked anger online. (Screengrab/Twitter)

The Syrian government increased on Thursday the price of bread in regime-controlled areas, while several bakeries in the countryside of Damascus stopped operating over a fuel and flour crisis.

The Syrian official news agency, SANA, reported that the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection issued a decision setting the sale price of 1kg of “subsidized bread” without bag at 75 Syrian liras and the price of 1.1kg bundle of bread packed in a plastic bag at 100 liras.

Before the decision, the 1kg of subsidized bread was sold at 35 liras while the bundle of bread was 50 liras.

The Ministry justified its decision to "high costs and difficulties in securing wheat flour as a result of the conditions of war and the unjust blockade.”

The US dollar is worth around 2,200 Syrian liras in the black market.

The bread crisis drove state-owned bakeries in Damascus to place people, queuing for bread, in iron cages.

The director of Damascus bakeries, Nael Asmander, was quoted as saying that this is the way to separate men, women and army soldiers, adding that the “culture of queuing does not exist in our country.”

The photos, shared widely on social media, sparked condemnations.

Last month, the Syrian government tried in vain to solve the bread crisis by ordering that daily family bread rations be reduced after failing to provide subsidized bread and gasoline to the people. The move sparked outrage among the public, who accused Damascus of “starving” the people to cover up for its shortcomings.

SANA announced a new mechanism for people to buy bread. A family of one or two people will be allowed one pack of bread per day, while a family of three or four will be allowed two.

A family of five or six can have access to three packs and a family of seven or more will be allowed four.

Prime Minister Hussein Arnous said this week that “bread is a red line.”

At a meeting with unions, the PM said that 690,000 tons of wheat had been bought this year, including 300,000 from Hasakah in northeast Syria.

Damascus has sharply increased petrol prices in regime-held areas, blaming the decision on "the huge cost of the government in securing oil derivatives and the increase in transport costs in light of the unjust blockade imposed by the US administration.”

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