Increasing Wages is a Humanitarian and National Necessity
The minimum wage in Syria has become the lowest in the world, when measured in dollars, and it may also be the lowest in terms of its purchasing power. Within two weeks, the costs of the basic food basket became 6.6 times the minimum wage – the latter is approximately 50 thousand pounds! This means that the cost of living for a family of five members has exceeded 550 thousand Syrian pounds, taking into account that food constitutes 60% of the cost of living in the current harsh conditions that constrain spending on other aspects!
That is, the minimum wage should be 11 times its current value to allow the family of a Syrian worker to survive! But can wages be raised 11 times ?!Theoretically it is not possible at the present moment to reach such a level directly, because the mass of the required increment is higher than GDP of Syria. Not increasing wages in any proportion, however, means leaving millions pray to starvation, which would be a humanitarian and national catastrophe, and this is the aim of the sanctions. The wage increment is necessary in order for wages to take a higher share of the national income against the profits in an exceptionally unfair distribution system, where wages hardly get 20% of the national income, compared to 80% that goes to profits!
Increasing wages requires increasing national product, and there are three possible approaches for collecting resources and reviving the economy, but not all of which are effective:
First, resource mobilization must start from where the resources are actually accumulated, i.e. from the accumulated and historically plundered wealth of the big corrupt, specifically from the war trade in recent years, which should be confiscated and transformed into investment resources that enter into the arteries of local production, revitalize it, and raise that share of it allocated for wages, to serve in lowering food prices and increasing its production, which causes a direct increase in wages.
Second, some people propose reliance on loans, which is the policy that was suggested by governmental statements. But this is risky and unrealistic approach. Persistence of the systematic great corruption and chaos means evaporating the resources that would be, in such a case, borrowed as debts, while keeping their interest as future burdens on the shoulders of Syrian people. Not to mention, that the conditions of the global economic crisis will not provide significant loaning options, and will raise the level of political and economic preconditions to a degree that will make it impossible to obtain such loans.
Third, we can talk about obtaining resources through local monetary issuance, i.e. dependence on printing money, which would be a less risky possibility than loans, but it is still conditional on changing the economic approach and converting the mass of the printed Syrian pounds into a real productive investment that decreases price levels and increases the real value of wages in calculated proportions. Otherwise, such a monetary mass would only be an additional negative factor that increases inflation and lowers the value of the national currency, thus raising prices.
It is not possible to think of any temporary economic solutions today as long as the system of liberal pillaging and corruption continues, and as long as the Syrian people do not have the ability to impose radical policies that open the door to possible solutions. Therefore, the only path to solutions is made through the political space which the Syrian people will seize when the extremists of the various sides of the Syrian conflict make concessions that allow the implementation of international resolutions, specifically UNSCR 2254, to reach a settlement that allows Syrian people to act to solve the problem, otherwise, chaos will succeed in imposing itself again.
Kassioun Editorial, Issue No. 971, June 22, 2020