In Focus | Law No.1 for 2021: would it resolve the housing crisis or it is no more than an attempt to ease the popular discontent?
The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Al-Assad, approved Law No. (1) on January 31, 2021, which provides an annual loan grant of 5 million SYP for the General Organization for Housing to build housing for State Workers.
A set of points can be drawn up about the law, as follows:
1. The law grants a loan with a reduced interest of 1% to the General Organization for Housing to implement housing for state employees exclusively, as the implementation procedures of the law require only the payment of a symbolic amount by each worker up to 10% of the value of the dwelling to receive his or her allocated house, and the remaining amount (90% of the dwelling value) to be paid in 25 year-long installments, which is an unprecedented convenience.
2. The recent legislation obligates both the Ministry of Finance and the public banks to grant loans for the General Organization for Housing which enables the latter to have permanent resources by borrowing and others through sales operations, and that stimulates its business and ensures coverage of different segments of workers in the state.
3. During 2020, an increase in the number of State employees was approved, preference was given to the families of the dead in the army and the military contractors, new jobs were announced by many state institutions and several salary increases were approved, including the salaries of retirees as the employees of many institutions have been given priority in having their food and clothing needs at reduced prices.
4. This law has been legislated as an attempt to enhance the gains of the state’s 1.6 million employees, according to official statistics, at a time when the Syrian society under the regime’s control is suffering its worst economic crisis ever. In light of the failure of the regime and its allies in dealing with successive crises, the passage of such a law appears as an attempt by them to provide giveaways or promises of donations to State employees, a sector to which majority of the regime's supporters belongs, which might alleviate the growing popular discontent due to the deteriorating economic conditions.
5. Although the employment growth in the government sector is taking place at a high rate recently, however, salaries are still low, but they are better than the private sector, as they include a fixed amount at least for workers in the public sector, in addition to various benefits that they receive depending on the place and position the employees occupy, and the issue of providing housing for them comes as one of the most important gains of this sector in 2021.
6. The housing supply in Syria has been somewhat high lately, because tens of thousands of Syrian cities and towns' residents left home in the regime-held areas, as part of the displacement and migration processes took place in previous years , so it is not expected such a law to meet the demand, which is much weaker than the supply, but rather it comes within the framework of achieving benefits for workers mainly, and the regime may use it to distribute shares to personnel in the public sector, especially in the military and security institutions.
Unit of Analysis and Thinking - Jusoor for Studies