Damascus, Oct 27: The once posh al-Shaalan market of this Syrian capital sees fewer people visiting it to buy expensive items these days in a sign that the long period of domestic crisis has started to pinch economically.
Al-Shaalan market is where many food and clothing shops can be found. But now without customers, many now only sell the cheap Flafel sandwiches and they are quite busy, reports Xinhua.
Most Syrians have to abandon fancy restaurants and opt for cheap dinners or buy low-priced food in order to cope with the economic hardship that the on-going domestic crisis has brought on.
A man in his 40s waiting for his turn to buy sandwiches said, “It is the only thing in this country whose price is still rational and affordable for most Syrians. We used to eat Falafel once a month, but now because of the unprecedented expensive living conditions, we eat it every week.”
As part of the austerity measures, a lot of Syrians cut large spending on big-ticket items from their food list, and have stopped buying expensive foodstuff, even like meat.
Syrians complain about soaring prices of all consumer items, which have made most of the items inaccessible for Syrians amid reports that the country’s inflation rate is now one of the highest in the world.
Official figures have put the inflation rate at 50 percent, but unofficial estimates say it is about 300 percent, further worsening the Syrians’ livelihood.
The central bank of Syria has strongly intervened in the exchange market and its policy was proved constructive in pushing up the price of the Syrian pound. The dollar is now less than 170 pounds in the black market, down from 300 Syrian pounds two months ago.
A recent statement by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said according to its standards four million Syrians are subjected to famine, or live below food-poverty line.
The ESCWA also indicated that another eight million Syrians now live under the minimal poverty line, while 18 million live below the maximal poverty line.
Syrian economist Abed Fadliyeh told websites that the solution to the Syrians’ hardship is to “guide their consumption” amid rising food price, suggesting that prices have surpassed the citizens’ purchasing power.