Dealers and bankers said that the price of the dollar on the black market reached 3,450 pounds on Sunday, which means a decrease of 18 percent in the price of the Syrian currency compared to the end of last month.
The last rapid decline of the pound was last summer when it broke the 3,000-pound barrier to the dollar, after fears that the imposition of US sanctions would add to the woes of the country’s ailing economy.
Syria has been beset by Western sanctions for years, in addition to a fierce war that began a decade ago.
A major Damascus-based trader said the dollar rose after demand far outstripped supply, following months of relative stability at 2,500 pounds to the dollar.
A trader in Aleppo said, “There is a lot of demand for dollars, but hard currency is not available.”
The dollar was worth 47 Syrian liras before the start of the Syrian protests in March 2011, which quickly developed into a war.
Bankers and businessmen say that one of the reasons for the dollar shortage is the financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon, as banks, which are experiencing a grueling crisis there, have frozen billions of dollars for Syrian businessmen.
The Lebanese financial sector has for decades been a safe haven for Syrian business leaders, as well as for government-linked companies that have used some of its banks to bypass sanctions and import raw materials.
Businessmen say the country has been forced to cut fuel subsidies and provide foreign currency for essential imports.
The collapse of the currency led to a rise in inflation, which added to the suffering of Syrians to save food, energy and other basic needs.
Bankers say that despite pledging the central bank last week to intervene to support the collapsing currency, it is reluctant to do so in order to preserve what remains of its scarce foreign exchange reserves.
Reserves were $ 17 billion before the outbreak of the conflict 10 years ago.
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