Price levels in Syria vary enormously depending on where one lives, on the intensity of the violence in that area, on the ease of distributing and transporting goods there or on its political or strategic importance for the central government. Thus while inflation officially stood at around 36 percent in June, this should be read only as a broad indicator rather than a reflection of the actual levels of inflation across the country.
According to a resident of Damascus who has just come back from a visit to his parents in their village located near the north-eastern city of Raqqa, the area there lacks almost everything. A kilogramme of tomatoes is now sold at SYP 125 from only SYP 25.00 a few months ago. Gasoline is nowhere to be found; as to the phone networks, neither the landline nor the two mobile phone operators can be accessed in the area.
Meanwhile, cooking gas is now sold at up to $100 a cylinder, our witness said. Not only is this price some ten times the price applied in Damascus, where gas can be found at around SYP 700, but strikingly the price is given in dollars, not Syrian Pounds.
Using dollars to price items is a common practice in countries where inflation reaches extremely high levels and this is apparently what is happening in certain parts of Syria. Dollarisation, as it is practiced in neighbouring Lebanon, among others, is an additional challenge the Syrian economy will have to face unless the political crisis faced by the country is resolved rapidly.