Nearly a Third of Syria SMEs Closedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Nearly a third of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Syria have closed since an anti-government uprising erupted in March last year, a business leader said in comments published on Thursday.
"Today, unemployment is rising, and 30 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have closed their doors," Damascus Chamber of Commerce member Sonia Khanji told the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper.
Interviewed by Agence France Presse, Khanji said businesses were being hit not only by the daily clashes between troops and rebel fighters but also by sanctions imposed by Arab and Western governments, as well as neighboring Turkey.
"Syria is in a state of war. The government must be more consistent its efforts to revitalize" the economy, she said.
"For the growth rate to stop declining, the government must develop budgetary, fiscal and monetary policies in response to international sanctions imposed on Syria."
Damascus Chamber of Commerce vice president Bahaeddine Hassan too called for "rapid solutions" to reduce the impact of sanctions in comments to Al-Watan.
He underlined the importance of "the private sector's contribution in the face of the many challenges" the government faces."
Another member of the chamber, Burhaneddine Ashkar, criticized businessmen who had relocated abroad in the face of the 17-month uprising, saying: "Merchants should support the state."
Since the revolt started, the Syrian pound has lost 50 percent of its value against the dollar, and economic output and investment have fallen sharply.
According to Central Bank figures, inflation reached 22.5 percent in the first three months of 2012 compared to just 4.6 percent in the same period of last year.
Analysts put the unemployment rate at around 25 percent.