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Syrian pound falls to near 10,000 against dollar on black market

DAMASCUS (AFP) – The value of the Syrian pound plunged yesterday to nearly 10,000 against the dollar on the black market, websites monitoring the exchange rate said, following years of conflict and crippling sanctions.

The embattled currency stood at just SYP47 to the dollar before Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011.

The conflict has since killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and battered the country’s infrastructure and industry.

The pound hit a new record low of SYP9,750 to the dollar yesterday, according to the unofficial exchange rate monitoring sites which traders use to determine the price of goods.

The official exchange rate approved by the central bank is SYP6,532 to the dollar.

Damascus has blamed the country’s economic woes on Western sanctions and the knock-on effects of an economic collapse in neighbouring Lebanon that has stemmed the flow of dollars into government-held areas.

PHOTO: ENVATO

The new plunge comes in the wake of Syria’s recent return to the Arab fold after years of isolation, and as Damascus hopes wealthy Gulf countries could help fund reconstruction.

“The war has not ended yet, and the reasons for the drop in the pound’s value have not changed,” said economist Ammar Yussef, pointing to “ongoing sanctions blocking exports”.

“The Arab opening towards Damascus hasn’t started to have an impact yet, particularly as it hasn’t been accompanied by concrete economic steps,” he added.

The collapse – from SYP5,000 to the dollar in October – has driven up the price of basic goods and aggravated hardship in a war-ravaged country hit by crippling shortages of fuel and electricity.

An average monthly salary of SYP130,000, according to figures reported in Syrian media, is now worth little over USD13.

The United Nations (UN) said some 90 per cent of the population is poor, while the UN World Food Programme estimates that more than 12 million people in the country are food insecure.

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