Business & Economy

Syria devalues currency by 78 percent amid severe economic crisis

Damascus, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- Syria’s central bank on Wednesday devalued the pound by 78 percent amid one of the worst economic crisis since the ongoing civil war broke out in 2011.

The official exchange rate has increased from 704 pounds per dollar, a rate set in January, to 1,256 pounds per dollar, the bank said.

The move comes as the United States is expected to announce sanctions on Syria as part of the so-called Caesar Act.

The new rate applies to personal transfers to Syria and operations in foreign exchange institutions, according to a brief statement published by the state-run SANA news agency.

The Syrian government has not given reasons for the devaluation. The black market rate for the currency is currently around which 2,835 pounds to the dollar.

The euro is worth 1,413.38 pounds compared to 798 on Tuesday.

This comes a week after Syrian President Bashar Assad sacked Imad Khamis as prime minister, a position he held since 2016, amid increasing inflation that has reached over 60 percent this year according to non-official sources.  

Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez as Syria’s president in July 2000, faces one of the worst economic crises ever to hit war-torn Syria.

International Committee of the Red Cross said that around nine million people in Syria suffer from food insecurity, a 20 percent increase compared to last year.

The United Nations estimates that 80 percent of the Syrians live under the poverty threshold, with less than $100 per month.

The US Department of State and Department of the Treasury are expected to announce a list of individuals and entities that will be sanctioned for doing business with the Syrian government.

The new wave of sanctions comes as Assad’s regime focuses its attention on rebuilding the country. After nine bloody years of war, Assad has reversed the tide against the rebels and retaken most of the territory.

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