Syria Country Office Market Price Watch Bulletin Issue 67, June 2020

Situation Report
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  • The national average price of a standard reference food basket in June 2020 was SYP 84,095 increasing by 48 percent compared to May 2020. The national average reference food basket price increased by 110 percent since February 2020 (pre-COVID-19 period).

  • WFP’s reference food basket is now more expensive than the highest government monthly salary (SYP 80,240).
    Outlining the serious deterioration in peoples’ purchasing power.

  • The Syrian pound continued to heavily depreciate on the informal exchange market, weakening to SYP 3,200/USD before stabilizing around SYP 2,500/USD by end June. As a result, the Syrian Central Bank officially devalued the SYP to SYP 1,250/USD on 16 July. The new UN exchange rate is also SYP 1,250/USD.

  • High volatility in the exchange market have pushed-up the prices of all commodities. Supply chains briefly entered into shock in early June as wholesalers and retailers limited sales until stability was restored to the informal exchange rate.

Standard Food Basket

The national average monthly price of a standard reference food basket1 increased by 48 percent between May and June 2020, reaching SYP 84,095. The national average food basket price was 110 percent higher than that of February 2020 (before COVID-19 movement restrictions) and was 231 percent higher compared to October 2019 (start of the Lebanese financial crisis) and 240 percent higher vis-à-vis June 2019 (Figure 1).

The increase in the national average food basket price is caused by a multitude of factors such as: high fluctuations of the Syrian pound on the informal exchange market, intensification of unilateral coercive measures and political disagreements within the Syrian Elite.

All 14 governorates reported an increasing average reference food basket price in June 2020, with the highest month-on-month (m-o-m) increase reported in Quneitra (up 78 percent m-o-m), followed by Rural Damascus (up 62 percent m-o-m), and Deir-ez-Zor (up 61 percent m-o-m).

Idleb continued to report the highest average food basket price in Syria reaching SYP 107,891 in June 2020 (up 52 percent m-o-m), followed by Al-Hasakeh at SYP 88,619. The lowest average food basket price was reported in Hama at SYP 76,704 (up 43 percent mo-m), followed by Lattakia at SYP 76,822 (up 38 percent m-o-m).

Compared to last year, the price of the reference food basket has increased across all 14 governorates. Idleb recorded the highest increase (up 353 percent), followed by Rural Damascus (up 298 percent) and Damascus (up 280 percent).

The gap between the highest and lowest average food basket price widened by 41 percent from SYP 22,089 in May to SYP 31,188 in June 2020 (Chart 1).