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Damascus rations subsidised food with smart cards

DAMASCUS: Syria’s authorities on Feb 1 began rationing subsidised meals like rice and sugar with sensible playing cards, a ministry mentioned, within the newest measure to handle an financial disaster within the war-torn nation.

The worth of the Syrian pound in opposition to the greenback has plummeted on the black market in latest months, sparking worth hikes on key meals objects.

On Feb 1, 1000’s of Syrian households for the primary time used playing cards with built-in microchips to trace and cap their purchases of subsidised meals, the Ministry of Inner Commerce and Client Safety mentioned.

Below the brand new system, even the most important household can not acquire greater than three kilos of rice, 4 kilos of sugar and one kilo of tea a month, it mentioned on its Fb web page.

Smaller households are allowed even much less in keeping with their measurement.

Subsidies are key for Syrians residing in government-held areas in a rustic the place the United Nations says battle has compounded poverty.

However Ibrahim Saad, 51, requested how he was anticipated to feed his household with the most recent rationing.

“The rice shouldn’t be sufficient for a household of 5 – 6 folks,” mentioned Saad, a father of three who earns a meagre wage working in a grocery retailer.

“Earlier than the battle, we may purchase something,” he mentioned.

However now he and his spouse should hold monitor every month of the subsidised meals and gasoline they’re allowed to purchase to be able to make them final.

Final yr, Damascus imposed limits on state-backed petrol for vehicles and motorbikes, in addition to subsidised gasoline oil and cooking fuel.

Syria’s battle has killed greater than 380,000 folks, but additionally ravaged key financial infrastructure, and despatched oil and fuel revenues plunging by billions of {dollars}.

Economist Ammar Yussef mentioned meals subsidies weren’t having a huge effect on the typical Syrian, and extra wanted to be completed to handle the general financial system.

“The Syrian financial system wants restructuring to go well with the distinctive disaster it is going by means of,” he mentioned, alluding to how exhausting it was to acquire exhausting foreign money for imports and sanctions.

Professional-government economists blame the financial crunch on Western sanctions in opposition to Damascus.

However they are saying de-facto devaluation of the Syrian pound is because of a liquidity disaster in neighbouring Lebanon, which has lengthy served as a conduit for international foreign money into government-held areas of Syria. – AFP

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