Syria Pulls Out New Ticket Amid Economic Crisis


DAMASCUS (AP) – Syria began putting into circulation a 5,000 lire bill on Sunday, the highest denomination in the country overwhelmed by a devastating civil war and crippling economic crisis.

The new banknote, which shows a portrait of a soldier saluting the Syrian flag, seeks to “meet the market’s need, facilitate cash transactions and reduce their cost,” said the Central Bank of Syria.

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The Syrian currency has been falling precipitously since the conflict broke out in 2011. At that time the change was 47 lire to the dollar and now it is 1,250, although on the black market the rate is double.

The collapse of the national currency has caused skyrocketing inflation and prices for food and basic goods are skyrocketing.

Syria’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported average inflation of 200% in 2020 compared to 2019, although for commodities the figure rose to 300%. The prices of staple foods like lentils and vegetable oil have increased by 15%.

The economic crisis has been exacerbated by restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, international sanctions against the government, and endemic corruption and embezzlement.

The UN estimates that almost 80% of the Syrian population lives below the poverty line. In recent months there has been a shortage of fuel and wheat, and the government has had to cut subsidies and impose rationing.

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