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Syria Floats New Banknote

Syria Floats New Banknote

Sunday, 24 January, 2021 - 18:30
In this photo, Iyed Bilal, the director of the treasury department of the Syrian Central Bank, shows the new banknote of 5,000 Syrian pounds during a press briefing, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (SANA via AP)

A new, 5,000 Syrian Lira banknote went into circulation Sunday, the largest denomination in the country reeling from a decade of conflict and a crippling economic crisis.

Syria’s currency has been on a downward spiral since the conflict began in 2011. Trading that year at 47 liras to the dollar, it's now officially up to trading at 1,250 liras to the dollar. On the black market, the dollar is trading at nearly double the official value.

The currency crash has sent prices of food and basic goods soaring.

Syria’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported an average inflation rate of 200% in 2020 compared to 2019, with goods inflation reaching 300%. The prices of key food items, such as lentils and vegetable oil, have increased by around 15%.

The economic hardship has been made worse by the pandemic restrictions, increased Western sanctions on the Syrian regime and its allies for their role in the war, and years of corruption and mismanagement.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 80% of Syrians live under poverty line. In recent months, fuel and wheat have been in short supply, driving the government to reduce subsidies and ration resources.

The Central Bank said that the new banknote was issued “to meet the need of the market, facilitate cash transactions and reduce their costs.”

The newly-designed banknote bears on one side a photo of a soldier saluting the Syrian flag.

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