Cost of housing, transport and utilities all soar as sanctions and unrest take toll on economy
Syria's rate of inflation rose to 36.1 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, as the cost of housing, water, electricity, gas and transport increased, the government's Central Bureau of Statistics reported. Consumer prices increased 2.9 percent from the month before, the government agency said.
Housing, water, electricity and gas increased 31.54 percent, while transportation increased 19.76 percent. The price of meat fell 5 percent, fruits declined 27.5 percent, while the cost of vegetables dropped 47.4 percent.
International sanctions and nearly 18 months of political unrest in the country that has so far claimed more than 20,000 lives, according to activists and opposition groups, have slowed the pace of economic growth. European and US sanctions have increased pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's administration as fuel shortages and a depreciating currency further threaten the stability of the country.
The country's economy has lost US$4bn in revenue as a result of the oil sanctions, Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jleilati said in an interview with Arabian Business in June. The oil industry accounted for 20 percent of gross domestic product before the uprising began and the EU used to buy 95 percent of Syria’s oil exports.
Despite the sanctions imposed on Syria, the country's economy will not "collapse,'' Jleilati said.
Syria's economy will grow between 0 and 2 percent this year while the fiscal deficit "remains within normal estimates" and on target of 6 to 7 percent of GDP, Jleilati said. Syria’s economy contracted 3.4 percent in 2011 largely due to the unrest, while GDP is expected to shrink by 8.1 percent in 2012, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Total unemployment in Syria has increased from about 12 percent to 25 percent, according to Jleilati.