Bread and Energy; $3 Billion. Larger than the Remains of the State Apparatus.
Ashtar Mahmood Ashtar Mahmood

Bread and Energy; $3 Billion. Larger than the Remains of the State Apparatus.

Energy and Bread; there is perhaps nothing that intensifies the material and economic essentials of any social structure more than these two components. Bread is enough for survival, and energy is necessary for moving forward and for work. The abundance of these two components is the necessary and inadequate limit to guarantee economic, political, and social security. When the economic and political structure is “lenient” with bread and energy crises, then it is practically not looking for the essentials for survival or moving forward, and is indifferent about falling into the abyss.   

Since the beginning of the crisis, and even since the beginning of the millennium, specifically after 2005, social subsidy that practically includes the system of bread and energy has been the element around which Syrian economic policies revolve in their path towards (economic openness and appeal to the West).

They also used to market this policy given that it achieves fiscal objectives: abundance in budget, reducing deficiency, mitigating burdens and expenditure, increasing general resources, etc. This policy was based on the pretext that subsidy is inflated, not distributed fairly, leads to squander, and benefits corruption. All of the above mentioned are true, as inflated subsidy amounts are larger than real costs, first of all. Second of all, subsidized materials have been historically subject to investment through the corruption networks of the state apparatus from highest circles to small circles. However, thirdly and most importantly, all mechanisms of reduction of this subsidy have not kept it out of the reach of corruption networks, but rather out of the reach of society, deepened crises, and increased the profits of corruption, as corruption is the root of the Syrian political system, hence, formal change of mechanisms does not change the reality of its existence.    

Diligence in Electronic Intelligence

Today, the liberals of Syria strive to create new mechanisms for the purpose of modernizing the methods of distribution, but all of them aim to achieve the main purpose of reducing and saving quantities so the right holder of a certain material will have to wait for the electronic notification to get his share. In such case, quantities are being controlled and reduced through time delays, and instead of the entitlement of one jar of LPG for a family approximately every month, the duration is delayed to 60 days in an intentional but unannounced manner, during certain periods. On the other hand, those methods take place through intermediary partnerships with the state apparatus, which allows a share from the allocations and revenues of the distributed basics to go to service providers, such as: intermediary partnerships in the E-card, and telecommunication companies. Although this seems secondary, it is essential in the policies of this phase in which finding guaranteed income paths becomes a primary goal under the decline of resources in the market, where those people intrude on securing the basics and profit from them even when they are reduced.

Bread and Energy;
Larger than the State’s Budget.

Things have actually reached a level where securing the basics: bread and energy, has become an issue above the capacity of the remains of the state apparatus that have been absorbed by the decades of corruption and the decade of the crisis. Those in charge of it are dealing with this issue as a fait accompli, as the state has no financial capacity with the resources it receives to tackle the task of securing the minimum needs of bread and energy. And now we will go to a new reduction of bread quantities after the previous reduction.

Securing the amounts of flour necessary for producing bread after the austerity plan has become 2 million tons, and its cost today approximates: $480 million. As for securing the lacking energy needs through import at full levels, it requires $2.5 billion. Both sums are subject to increase with the expected increase in global prices as the second wave of the international crisis has been manifested in inflation and the increase in the prices of the basics. The price of oil was expected to reach $100, while the prices of food in the international market started increasing at record rates.

An amount that approximates $3 billion to secure bread and energy is practically an amount that exceeds the Syrian government’s budget of 2021 which approximates $2.6 billion. That is, it is beyond the theoretical capacity of the government’s finances, especially that most of this amount needs to be paid in foreign exchange, which is out of reach. Today, we are in a situation where there is ineffectuality in controlling foreign exchange, to the point that monetary policies are obliged to adopt an unavailing method in which they lock up their available resources in the Syrian pound within banks so they would not go to the market and turn into a contributing factor to the purchase of foreign exchange and speculation on it, as the market of foreign exchange is out of the reach of the government and its capacity. 

What does the Crisis of Bread and Energy mean?

The bread and energy crisis is practically the tip of the iceberg, under which inclusive corruption administered by a controlling section of the State apparatus is concealed, reflecting its exceptional plunder and historical thefts with its accessories during the crisis. It is a reflection of a crisis of political, economic and social structure. Unfortunately, there are no partial solutions here, as the crisis of the lack of bread and austerity is a deep crisis of confidence because it is a declaration of a policy of abandoning the last red lines of a society in which wage earners live on wages 6 times below subsistence and continuation levels! On the other hand, its elite and government see this as a method where financial burdens can be mitigated. That is, those people see that reducing the quantities of bread which Syrian families receive at a reduced price is a place for possible financial saving! They are elites and governments that can only encroach the morsel of the weakest and poorest segments. When saving at the expense of securing energy fundamentals, these elites and their governments lose all their senses and all their delusional dreams (in building and investing) because no one will continue to work, or take the initiative in an environment where energy fundamentals are not secured.

Finally, it can be said that $3 billion for basics is actually larger than the remains of the state apparatus, but it is not larger than the capacity of the plundered Syrian economy. It is actually nothing compared to the drug market, for example, which the estimates of its market can reach $16 billion in Syria, based on the value of confiscations from it in just one year, which is close to $2 billion Not to mention all other forms of corruption and plunder markets (smuggling, monopolistic profits of import, currency). These are the resources, which can no longer be fulfilled economically or politically for public interest, because the market law is governed by major financial and influential powers that do not accept  their profits to decline below specific profit ratios they used to collect from the major levels of Syrian corruption, which no matter how resources of the state apparatus increased or decreased, their fate is to be swallowed by those people.

(Arabic version)


Last modified on Tuesday, 27 July 2021 12:47
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