Syria's President Decrees 50% Salary Hike Amid Harsh Crisis

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a decree Sunday giving hundreds of thousands of civil servants and military members a 50% salary increase amid a harsh economic and financial crisis and price increases for vital products.

Assad's decision came a day after the state doubled the price of bread, the country's main staple, and increased by 180% the price of diesel fuel.

The Syrian economy has been hard hit by a decade of war, Western sanctions, widespread corruption and most recently a severe economic and financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon. The last salary increase was announced in November 2019.

The decree released by Assad's office put the minimum monthly income at 71,515 Syrian pounds ($22). It also granted military and civilian pension holders an increase of 40% in the retirement pension.

The U.S. dollar is trading at about 3,200 pounds on the black market while the official rate is 2,500 pounds.

Nearly 80% of Syrians live in poverty, and 60% are food insecure -- the worst food security situation ever seen in Syria, according to the United Nations.