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Confusion arises among Syrians after accelerating drop in Syrian pound's value


09:12, June 18, 2013

DAMASCUS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- In all the hubbub over the dramatic devaluation of the Syrian pound that has declined by roughly 40 pounds against the U.S. dollar in a single day in the black market, top Syrian officials are still determined that the economy is stable and capable of facing all challenges.

Following the steep depreciation of the pound over the past 24 hours -- the dollar soared from 170 pounds to around 210 pounds -- many Syrians rushed to markets to buy basic food stuff and commodities out of fears that their prices would rise soon.

Media reports said that there is currently a meeting combining top Syrian officials and economists, including the governor of the Central Bank of Syria and exchange dealers, to discuss the issue of the striking rise in the exchange rate of the dollar against the pound, and to find an appropriate way of intervening to rein in the upward climb of the dollar price.

The Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Monday during the meeting of the economic commission entrusted with following up the pound exchange rate that the government has large reserves of foreign exchange to provide all the needs of the Syrian market of imported goods and production inputs.

He stressed that the government was working around the clock to follow up the exchange rate and take a package of economic measures to enhance the national economy.

The premier referred to the support of what he called the friendly countries of the Syrian people economically, especially Iran through its willingness to finance all Syrian imports and the requirement of industrial and agricultural production.

The governor of the central bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, also said that the bank would continue its policy of intervention to keep up the price of the pound, saying that the bank will sell each citizen 1,000 euros per month to meet its needs in relation to education and health, noting that the process of intervention will be by financing imports and other non-commercial operations through the Commercial Bank of Syria and the exchange companies.

He stressed that the current price of the dollar in the black market was "false and illogical," and urged the Syrians not to be believe allegations.

However, Suleiman Suleiman, an economist, blamed the high decrease in the pound's value on the suffocating economic siege and the failure of the Syrian economic team to offer effective solutions to control the exchange rate's prices.

He told Xinhua that the economic sanctions on Syria had also created a security crisis, noting that most of the commodities couldn't arrive in the country and stir up inflation, which in its turn, has been reflected on the pound and its purchasing power.

"All solutions generated by the economic kitchen, including the monetary fund and the governor of the central bank, have been of no avail," he said.

He said that for the government to keep a tight rein on the markets there should be a real control on the exchange rate, on the exchange dealers and the black markets, and to lure dollars back to banks via offering a certain interest.

Yet, he added, "If the central bank's governor insists to go on with the same economic policies, there would be more rise in the prices on the market because the crisis and the economic siege are still there."

Suleiman ruled out the possibility of dollarization in the market, saying: "Around 80 percent of the Syrian people are from the middle and lower classes that depend mostly on the Syrian pound and not the dollar."

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