Syrian leader sacks Central Bank chief amid currency crash

BEIRUT (AP) — President Bashar Assad sacked the governor of war-ravaged Syria’s Central Bank on Tuesday amid a crash in the currency in recent months.

State media did not give a reason for the removal of Hazem Qarfoul from the post he held since late 2018. The Syrian pound set a record in March trading on the black market at 4,600 pounds to one U.S. dollar before improving to 3,100. The official price remains 1,256 Syrian pounds to the dollar.

At the start of the conflict in mid-March 2011, the U.S. dollar was worth 47 Syrian pounds.

The currency crash has thrown more Syrians into poverty. The pound has been hit hard by the war, corruption, Western sanctions and more recently a financial and economic collapse in neighboring Lebanon. Syrians are believed to have billions of dollars blocked in Lebanese banks that have imposed harsh capital controls since late 2019.

The average salary in Syria is about 90,000 pounds ($29) per month making it difficult for many Syrians to survive.

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

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