Subjects – Syria Report



Earlier this year, the Central Bank of Syria authorised a UN agency to take credit facilities from local banks in Syrian pounds using its foreign currency deposits as collateral. While UNRWA would pay interest on this credit facility, it would benefit from exchanging its dollars only after 3 months have passed given the successive rounds of devaluations by the Central Bank.
The balance sheet of Syrian private sector banks grew last year, as deposits by public sector entities surged, according to official financial reports by the banks. The influence of the presidential palace can be seen in the large lending portfolio of two banks.
The Central Bank of Syria has authorised local banks to provide loans in foreign currency in an attempt to encourage lending and investment. Although its scope is relatively limited and only affects export-generating companies, the decision encourages dollarisation, that is, a shift towards economic transactions paid and earned in dollars, which is something that Syrian authorities have tried to avoid until now.
Since the catastrophic earthquakes devastated parts of northern Syria one week ago, killing 5,800 people, injuring thousands, leaving 5.30 million homeless, and destroying infrastructure and residential buildings, the regime, opposition authorities, and local organisations began carrying out disaster relief efforts in affected areas. 


This profile provides an account of Syria's six state-owned banks, covering their operations over the past two decades and the sector's losses and recovery efforts since the start of the 2011 conflict.