Syria’s oil minister said on Monday fuel prices would soon rise, and he blamed the increase in part on an influx of refugees into the country from neighboring Iraq.
“The idea of gradually raising the price of petrol, heating oil and domestic gas is because of increased demand, more expensive petrol and smuggling,” Oil and Mineral Resources Minister Suffian Allaw said in a debate on state television.
He said the cost of fuel oil and bottled gas would almost double, from the equivalent of 14 to 24 US cents a liter and 2.9 to $5 respectively. Allaw did not indicate how much petrol prices might rise.
The minister blamed the looming price increases on economic development and also on “demographic growth and the influx of Arab residents,” a reference to Iraqi refugees in Syria, thought to number between 1.5 and two million.
An estimated 30,000 new refugees arrive every month in Syria, and Vice President Faruq Al-Shara has said the influx constitutes an “economic, social and political burden.”
In July the United Nations refugee agency warned that health and education services in both Syria and Jordan were coming under increasing strain because of the volume of Iraqi refugees.
Allaw also said the price rises aimed to stop smuggling of state-subsidized fuel oil from Syria into neighboring states where the price per liter was higher, “causing losses to state coffers of around 12 billion Syrian pounds ($240 million) a year.”
The rises would be offset by “compensation of $250 per family per annum or by boosting salaries by 15 percent to 20 percent,” he said.