The Syrian regime should be held accountable for the deplorable condition of the Syrian economy and which is mostly manifested in the demise of the local currency the lira and the collapse of the oil sector, said a Syrian economics analyst.
“The Syrian lira has lost more than half its value because of the regime’s brutal repression of protests,” the analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Syrian independent news website Syria Politic.
The demise of the lira, the analyst argued, could have been stopped had the regime confiscated the money of corrupt officials who prove to have obtained it illegally.
“This money could have been deposited it in the Central Bank of Syria to boost the value of the lira. It could have also been used to implement development projects in Syria and to solve many problems like poverty and unemployment.”
Instead, he explained, the regime allowed many of those officials and corrupt businessmen to transfer their money as soon as the protests started to Lebanese banks, which contributed to the demise of the local currency.
“Many of those are known to be corrupt even without investigation. Comparing the prices of the mansions they own with their declared salaries is enough to reach this conclusion. Where did they get this money from?”
The analyst, who lectures at one of the Syrian universities, added that economic sanctions imposed on Syria dealt a fatal blow to the economy especially the oil sector.
“The Syrian regime could have avoided all that and could have gained the sympathy of the people through saving the economy, but it chose not to.”
According to Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sufian Allaw, the Syrian oil sector lost more than two billion US dollars since April 2010 due to the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.
“We have sustained major losses because of our inability to export oil and oil products.”
The oil embargo, Allaw added, resulted in cutting down production by 150,000 barrels which translates into a loss of 15 million dollars per day.
The Syrian lira lost more than 51 percent of its value since the start of the Syrian revolution. In the black market, a dollar is now worth 71 liras compared to 46 since 2006 and till the start of anti-regime protests in March 2011.
In July 2011, the lira started losing it value with one dollar being worth 58-60 liras then hit rock bottom in the past two weeks.
“One dollar was worth 65 liras until last Monday when it reached 67 then 71 on Tuesday,” said the owner of a currency exchange shop in the Syrian capital Damascus.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)