Damascus: Syria fixed the value of its exchange rate against global currencies as a nine-month uprising against the rule of President Bashar Al Assad undermines confidence in the pound and damages the economy.
The changes, which took effect on Monday, will be maintained until ‘further notice', the central bank said on its website. The pound was fixed at a mid-rate of 54.53 to the dollar, compared with a rate of 47.45 in August. Previously, the bank announced the pound's exchange rate on a daily basis.
Syria spent $3 billion (Dh11 billion) defending its currency and financing trade since the protests erupted in mid-March, Adib Mayaleh, governor of the central bank, said in an October 21 interview. International sanctions, calls for a general strike and the continuing violent crackdown on dissent are hurting businesses, with the Institute of International Finance forecasting an economy contraction of at least 5 per cent this year.
"The Syrian state is getting far less foreign exchange in because of the effects of the European oil embargo," David Butter, regional head for the Middle East at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said by telephone from London. "The economy is under very severe pressure."
Syria's $60 billion economy grew 5.5 per cent in 2010. The government expects growth of 1 per cent this year, Finance Minister Mohammad Al Jleilati said in September.