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Jan. 25, 2021, 2:44 p.m. EST

New Syrian lira banknote is largest denomination ever

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Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The new 5,000 Syrian lira banknote that went into circulation on Sunday is the largest denomination in the country reeling from a decade of conflict and a crippling economic crisis.

Syria’s currency has been on a downward spiral since the conflict began in 2011. Trading that year at 47 lira to the U.S. dollar, it’s now officially up to trading at 1,250 lira to the dollar. On the black market, the dollar is trading at nearly double the official value.

The currency crash has sent prices of food and basic goods soaring.

Syria’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported an average inflation rate of 200% in 2020 compared to 2019, with goods inflation reaching 300%. The prices of key food items, such as lentils and vegetable oil, have increased by around 15%.

The economic hardship has been made worse by the pandemic restrictions, increased Western sanctions on the Syrian government and its allies for their role in the war, and years of corruption and mismanagement.

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

Key Words (December 2020): 2021 looks like it will be ‘catastrophic,’ U.N. warns

Also: Four times as many jobs were lost worldwide in 2020 as during the 2008–09 financial crisis: UN

The Central Bank said that the new bank note was issued “to meet the need of the market, facilitate cash transactions and reduce their costs.”

The newly designed banknote bears on one side a photo of a solider saluting the Syrian flag.

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