Syrian President Bashar al-Assad named a new central bank head today amid continued currency depreciation and other economic problems in the war-ravaged country.
Assad named Muhammad Issam Hazima as governor of the central bank of Syria, the state SANA news outlet reported.
Assad fired the previous bank head, Hazem Karfoul, last week. State media did not report a reason at the time. The move came as Syria’s economy continues to reel due to the civil war and US sanctions. The black market exchange value of the Syrian pound fell to a low of 4,600 pounds to the US dollar in March. It recovered to 3,300 pounds to the dollar last week. Before the war, the value was 47 pounds to the dollar.
The pound went up on the black market to 2,990 pounds to the dollar on April 18, which was the highest value since December. The jump followed the government raising the official rate to 2,512 to the dollar from 1,256, which brought the two competing rates closer together. The currency’s plunge has hurt the economy by increasing inflation, making it harder to buy necessities, according to Reuters.
Neighboring Lebanon’s economic collapse and a lack of a rebuild from the war have further hurt the economy, and sanctions on Iran have contributed to Syria’s fuel crisis, according to the private intelligence firm Stratfor.
Hazima is a member of Syria’s securities commission and was educated in France, Reuters reported.