Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Damascus shop owners strike over sharp drop in Pound value

Business | 2019-11-29 23:07:00
Damascus shop owners strike over sharp drop in Pound value

Tens of Damascus shop owners went on strike Friday, protesting the deteriorating value of the Syrian pound against the dollar that hits 800 for $1, local activists said.

The Political Security Division threatened to arrest the merchants who close their shops for monopoly purposes.

Shop owners say business has slowed since the value of the Syrian pound against the dollar plunged to its lowest level in history.

On the black market, the Syrian pound was trading at 800 against the dollar -- its lowest rate in history.

That is a significant drop from 500 Syrian pounds to the dollar at the end of last year.

At the start of Syria's almost nine-year war, the rate stood at around 48 pounds to the dollar.

The declining value of the pound is a sure sign of Syria's ailing economy.

The civil war has battered the country's finances and depleted its foreign reserves.

A flurry of international sanctions on Bashar al-Assad's regime and associated businessmen since the start of the war in 2011 has compounded the situation.

The United Nations estimates the conflict has caused some $400 billion in war-related destruction.

The rapid depreciation of the Syrian pound has caused a further decline in the living standards of ordinary Syrians and threatens the continued functioning of what remains of the state, according to Carnegie Think Tank.

Aron Lund in a report published by the veteran Middle East Center in 2016 says: If the formal economy proceeds to break down in more fundamental ways than it has already, if the SYP loses even more of its purchasing power, and if state institutions cede ground to private charities, the black market, and militias, then the Assad regime will continue to evolve from an institutional state apparatus into a coalition of warlords. While tragic for Syria, such a development is especially dangerous for Assad himself, since his long term strategy is predicated on an ability to present himself as the last barrier against a permanent state collapse in Syria.

Reversing the decline of the government’s financial writ is therefore just as important to Assad as winning the battles on the ground. So far, he has seemed considerably more successful at the latter than the former.

Eight years of war in Syria have killed 560,000 people and driven half the pre-war population of 22 million from their homes, including more than 6 million as refugees to neighbouring countries.

Zaman al-Wasl, Agencies

Zaman Al Wasl
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