Syria: Damascenes lament soar in US Dollar to Lira exchange rate

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Damascus residents said a recent soar in US dollar exchange rates against the Syrian lira was producing major hardship on their lives, as shown in footage from Tuesday.
The Syrian lira or pound, officially pegged at 430 to the dollar, hit a new low falling to nearly 1,000 lira to the dollar in recent days, rising slightly on Tuesday to around 920. The Syrian pound started losing some of its value earlier this year as Western countries stiffened sanctions on Damascus.
“It affected me in a lot of things, like when I want to buy clothes for instance, the cheapest jacket costs 40,000 or 50,000 [Syrian pounds], while it once was for 20,000,” said one resident. “I am a soldier, my salary is 45,000. If I would serve my country for a whole month I would buy one jacket, see?”
“All food commodities prices are rising up,” said resident Yaseen Bdewi. “We used to buy calf meat with 5,000 [pounds], now it is 6,000.”
Resident Wael Qarout motivated the increase with “the crisis of war we experienced, and the economic siege on Syria. We should not forget that we have massive corruption.”
Economist Ammar al-Yousef said three factors behind the dollar exchange rate increase were “the Syrian government not interfering through the central bank,” “the unjust economic sanctions against the Syrian economy by some Western countries” and “the recent trauma in the Lebanese banking sector.”
The worsening of neighbouring Lebanon’s financial situation following protests against the government led Lebanese banks – where many Syrians have kept their savings for decades, especially since 2011 – to impose capital controls, preventing many Syrians from withdrawing large amounts from their accounts.
When Syria’s conflict started in March 2011, one US dollar was valued at around 47 Syrian lira.

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