Syria inflation hits 31.5% in April

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The slide in the value of the Syrian pound has crippled purchasing power of ordinary people. Photo - Anwar Amro/AFP

Syrian government’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday the rate of inflation soared to 31.5% in April compared with the same month a year ago, as the cost of food products increased due to fuel shortages and political unrest.

The statistics agency said the rate of increase is slower than the 30.8% recorded in March.

Syria has witnessing an unprecedented political and economic situation. More than 12,000 people have lost their lives in clashes between the security forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad and opposition armed groups. International sanctions imposed by the Western powers have also wrecked havoc on the country’s fragile economy. Fuel shortages and a depreciating currency further threaten Syria’s stability.

Syrian oil minister Sufian Allaw disclosed last month international sanctions have deprived the country’s economy around $4bn.

Sabotage

Meanwhile, opposition gunmen blew up a crude-oil pipeline in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, the government-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported, citing oil ministry officials.

According to SANA, the 24-inch pipeline was attacked by “an armed terrorist group” late Tuesday in the Ain Ali area south of the village of al-Quriya. The report added that production was not affected as the company directed crude flow into an alternative pipeline network.

Opposition armed groups have targeted Syria’s energy industry in more than 40 attacks since the outbreak of unrest against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

The Damascus Stock Exchange had a total of six trades on Wednesday. The bourse has lost 40% value since the uprising began 15 months ago whereas the Syrian pound has depreciated around 45% in the black market against the US dollar.

A report issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit said Syria’s economy contracted 3.4% in 2011 largely due to the unrest, while GDP is expected to shrink by 8.1% in 2012.

Face change

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad appointed Riyad Hijab, former agriculture minister as the country’s new prime minister, state television reported on Wednesday.

Hijab, dubbed as hardcore Baathist by some critics, replaces Adel Safar who was appointed in April last year shortly after a popular uprising erupted in the southern province of Deraa and later spread across the country.

Reports said Hijab was born in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province and holds a PhD in engineering. He was appointed minister of agriculture in April 2011.

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