The state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS) on Saturday, January 27, said its foreign exchange operations had multiplied eight-fold after applying the market floating rate to the Syrian pound on January 20.
The bank's branches which used to exchange a daily average of $3,000 before January 20 are now exchanging around $25,000 a day, CBS general manager Mahmud Mithqal told the official Ath-Thawra newspaper. "Those sums will multiply and boost the foreign currency reserves of the bank," he said.
The floating exchange rate of the pound is set daily taking into consideration the Syrian currency's value in neighbouring markets such as Lebanon, Jordan and in the Gulf, he added. CBS on Saturday was buying the dollar for 50.30 pounds and selling it for 50.50 pounds. Before January 20, the bank implemented the official rate of 46.00 pounds when buying the greenback, and 46.50 pounds when selling.
Mithqal however pointed out that most of the bank's forex operations are buying, as it can only sell to those who will be going to the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca and those who need medical treatment abroad. He also said CBS recently signed an agreement with the Monetary Agency of Bahrain, the central bank of the Gulf's banking hub, to train its executives in modern techniques.
Those moves come as part of Syria's efforts to modernize its banking sector which was fully nationalized in 1963, when the pan-Arab socialist Baath party seized power. The authorities recently gave the green light to the setting up of private banks and a stock exchange, along with the passage of a bill on banking secrecy .—(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )