The suffering of Syrians has not only been limited to high prices, weak purchasing power and low wages. Now, it has extended to the difficulty of receiving remittances sent by relatives abroad through officially licensed exchange and remittance companies. These organizations have implemented measures to restrict the transfer of funds.
Sanaa, a public sector employee, told Athr Press: “A state of insanely high prices afflicts Syrian markets, so I have become dependent on the remittances sent to me by my brother in Qatar.” She explained that her monthly expenses, as well as those of her family, amount to not less than one million Syrian pounds.
Sana’s situation represents many people who depend on remittances from relatives abroad, whether they reach them officially or informally.
Some information indicates that the total remittances that arrive in Syria each year exceed US$1.5 billion. The monthly total rises significantly during annual festivals and holidays, with average daily remittances during the holiday period estimated at “more than $ 9 million.” The increased flow of remittances reflects the rising number of expatriates and displaced people, the increase in poverty, and the needs endured by older generations at home in Syria.
In a statement to Athr Press, economist Ali al-Ahmad explained: “Remittances are a pillar of the economy. In practical terms, the money transfer is made to Syria, the transfer is done at the official rate, and the funds reach the recipients at a much lower value than the black market rate. Accordingly, most remittances do not enter officially but by informal means or smuggling.”
Ahmad added: “Foreign remittances constitute the most important foreign currency source for the Syrian government. This reality follows the decline of basic treasury revenue streams, such as exports, taxes, and budget surpluses from government institutions. The annual remittances sent by Syrian expatriates exceed US$3 billion annually, so a mechanism must be found to raise the official exchange rate or to bring the exchange rate for remittances closer to it. This would ensure that people do not escape from the official transfer process, and thus squander important sources of foreign currency.”
The economist predicted that the average remittances to Syria per month would reach about $ 400 million, reflecting the living conditions of Syrians and the Syrian lira’s exchange rate.
Most of the remittances sent to Syria come from the UAE, Iraq, Turkey, the GCC countries, Germany, and the Netherlands – this is because more than eight million Syrians live in those countries.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.