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To raise money, Syria government imposes tax on Shawarma, restaurants

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December 14
8:47 PM 2015

After struggling a bitter civil war for four years, Syria's government imposes tax on shawarma, restaurants, and other businesses in everyday life as new revenue source.

According to The Guardian, Shawarma is a very popular dish in the Middle East. The government's move to get its revenue from this industry shows that it has spread its reach to all the corners of the country's economy.

This is a move to prevent the economy from plunging into the abyss. The country's currency is constantly declining, revenues slowed down, exports are prevented, and it has lost most of its control on its oil and gas.

The Washington Post reported that the tourism industry in Syria has collapsed. The financial aid it gets from Russia and Iran has been cut.

The Syrian pound, which traded against the US dollar at 60 before the civil war, is now at 390, which is a huge surge from last year's 240. These problems have pushed the Assad regime to come up with desperate measures to raise money, which led to the shawarma tax.

In a report by Eater, restaurants in Syria are now taxed based on how many customers it accommodates. The government has also reduced its subsidies for bread, which is essential to the Syrian diet. Bread prices have steadily increased for the past few years.

A price hike of $0.06 on bread may be insignificant, but with bread's symbol in the Syrian life, that amount is monumental.

A Damascus resident said, "Last week I had to pay 220 Syrian pounds ($1 USD) for my shawarma sandwich instead of 200, and the restaurant owner told me it was because there's a new 10% 'reconstruction tax' that's being imposed on each sandwich."

The state telecommunications company increased its monthly subscription fees by 50 percent on its 4.5 million subscribers. Property taxes are also getting harsher tax rules. Import licenses are prioritized for those looking for raw materials.

These new tax laws are measures to avoid economic destruction as a 31 percent deficit is expected in the 2016 budget in Syria.

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