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Fuel of Suwayda on ‘stalls’: Crisis’ Solution Or Corruption

Fuel bottles for sale in Suwayda - 5 September 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Fuel bottles for sale in Suwayda - 5 September 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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After  the government of the Syrian regime’s decision to ‘set quotas’ of fuel for public and private vehicles in Suwayda province, southern Syria, the phenomenon of selling fuel on ‘stalls’ took over the streets of the province, making people wonder how it is available in the free markets while the  government of the Syrian regime failed to increase fuel allocations that are too little and do not cover the people’s needs.

Since the fuel in regime-controlled areas is supported by the government, its price is cheaper in filling stations. However, the allotted amounts of gasoline through smart fuel cards and their inadequacy drove the citizens to buy fuel at twice the price on the black market.

The holder of the smart fuel card is to receive 200 liters of gasoline per month allocated for the privately owned vehicle and 450 liters for the public vehicle, at a price of 250 Syrian pounds per liter, while one liter of stall fuel is sold for 500 pounds at least.

 

Smart fuel card ‘accentuated’ the problem

Salem, a sixteen years old boy, sells ‘stall’ fuel in Suwayda city, told Enab Baladi that stall sellers can get gasoline “easily” from the gas stations scattered all over the city at a price between 425 and 450 Syrian pounds, selling it on the ‘stall’ for 500 pounds.

Further, the boy pointed out that they raise profits by buying gasoline from vehicle owners who do not need their quotas, they get a liter at a price between 250 and 300 Syrian pounds, maximum.

Hassan, a customer at Salem’s ‘stall’, believes that ‘stalls’ and their owners are not responsible for this corruption. In contrast, they contribute to solving the problems of some people who need large amounts of fuel for their vehicles.

“The problem and great corruption lies first in the limited amount of fuel allocated for each person and second in the few quotas given to the gas stations. So, the problem is not only related to the limited quotas, but sometimes a month passes without finding a gas station which has fuel to fill up the tank of vehicles,” Hassan added.

 

Fears of driving up fuel prices

Yasser, a 32 years old resident of Suwayda city, thinks that the goal of the smart fuel card is to control consumption and reduce smuggling. However, the use of smart cards leads to an increase in the prices of the fuel and engine lubricants on the black market.

Moreover, the demand on gasoline has grown after rationing the fuel quotas, which made the fuel price rise automatically, especially with the spread of rumors about a government decision to reduce the quotas of smart fuel card to half the amount currently granted. According to the new draft of the project, 100 liters will be designated for touring car per month and 250 liters will be for the public car.

Yasser, a graduate of the Faculty of Economics, told Enab Baladi that the new draft resolution, which is being circulated among people in Suwayda, would also ordain to set “free” gasoline at 450 Syrian pounds, which is not subsidized, outside the official quotas for the smartcards. The official circles say that this figure includes only the government cost of fuel price per liter.

During a meeting with several local journalists in early April, the Prime Minister in the government of the Syrian regime, Imad Khamis, confirmed the ongoing information about the increase in the price of gasoline, contending, “the project is still in the developmental phase.”   Besides, Khamis stressed the role of smart card in reducing the smuggling of gasoline, considering at the same time “the price hike will only affect the owners of luxury cars.” In addition, the government database taken from the smart card indicates that the monthly average consumption is about 120 liters for one car per month.

 

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