UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — With the decline in the value of the local currency to record its lowest levels against the dollar, symbolic campaigns were launched to support the Syrian pound, in exchange for strict measures imposed by the government to protect it, including chasing everyone who uses foreign exchange in buying and selling.
The lira witnessed a record decrease in the past few weeks, as the exchange rate of the dollar on the black market exceeded one thousand pounds for the first time, while the official exchange rate was 434 pounds.
On social networking sites, Syrian activists launched a symbolic campaign this month entitled “Let us be proud” to encourage the use of coins that have become scarce since their lack of value, as the dollar was equivalent to 48 pounds before the outbreak of the conflict in 2011.
Last week, the Damascus Chamber of Industry and its countryside organized a “Everything in Lair” exhibition for just one day in the capital, during which more than 50 companies presented their products in exchange for the Lira coin.
“My father used to work as a bus driver to transport passengers,” Nadia said as she stood near her 80-year-old father, who was carrying a plastic bag full of metal pounds for France Press inside the exhibition.
“Now is the time to use it,” she says, smiling.
Although there is no actual impact of similar initiatives on the economy exhausted by the war years, the participants consider that they contribute even if symbolically to support the lira.
“We could have distributed the products for free, but we participated in the campaign in support of the economy,” said Abdul-Salam Ashi, a sales representative at a cleaning product company.
Meters away, Samer Darwish, a representative of a food products company, explains, “We are losing, but in the end it is beneficial for the country’s economy.”
“The better the economy, the more it benefits the company,” he says.
– The lira is “extinct”.
The campaign to support the lira did not go without criticism, as it is not a solution to the deteriorating economic situation or to the high prices.
“The initiative is good, but unfortunately it is almost impossible to implement because the one lira is extinct,” said Fadwa, whose curiosity prompted her to visit the exhibition to France Press.
Several shops supported the campaign, from barbershop to cafes and shopping malls, and one of them raised the slogan “They have Black Friday (Black Friday) and we have + to give us our honor +”.
In a Damascus suburb, a store owner selling cosmetics replaced their sales for one lira by announcing big discounts. And he says, “I don’t find that selling in pounds is logical, it’s simply not available.”
A client selects her purchases carefully, explaining that “the impact of the campaign is social, not economic.”
A women’s clothing store hung a banner saying, “Buy one piece and get a second in Syrian pounds.”
Analysts attribute the recent acceleration of the lira’s “collapse” to the economic crisis in neighboring Lebanon, where Syrian merchants deposit millions of dollars in banks that imposed severe restrictions on withdrawals and transfers in light of an acute liquidity crisis.
Arrests and prosecutions –
These symbolic initiatives are accompanied by the intensification by the authorities of the legal measures that they take to prosecute all those who trade other than the Syrian pound.
And the official news agency “SANA” reported that the owners of three institutions have been arrested since Thursday in Damascus, after controlling their non-lira dealings, as part of a series of arrests that started two weeks ago in several governorates. Following President Bashar Al-Assad’s issuance of a legislative decree stipulating the stiffening of penalties against all non-Syrian pounds as a means of payments or any type of trading or cash repayments, whether by foreign exchange or precious metals.
And the decree lifted the punishment by temporary imprisonment with hard labor for a period of not less than seven years after it stipulated imprisonment from six months to three years, with a fine.
The Central Bank of Syria closed, according to local media reports, a number of banking institutions for not adhering to the decisions.
The devaluation of the lira coincided with a record increase in the prices of most food and supplies, including sugar and rice, as well as meat, infant formula and other products.
Syrian officials reiterate that their country faces a new war represented by the economic blockade and sanctions, while the bloody and devastating conflict is nearing the completion of its ninth year.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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