Syrian President Bashar Assad pinned the prevailing difficulty of investing in Syria on frozen Syrian deposits in Lebanon during a speech on Saturday.
“The biggest obstacle to investment is the Syrian funds frozen in Lebanese banks,” Assad said after being sworn in for a fourth presidential term on Saturday. He added that international sanctions have also had an impact on the Syrian economy.
Assad, who declared election victory in late May with around 13.5 million votes (95.1%), had previously said that the financial crisis in Lebanon was the main reason behind Syria‘s deteriorating economy.
He had stated during a tour of a trade fair in November that between $20 billion and $42 billion Syrian deposits could have been lost in the Lebanese banking sector.
On Saturday, he said that some estimates indicated the number could be between $40 billion and $60 billion.
Lebanon, which is currently home to around 1.5 million Syrians, including 865,530 registered refugees, is going through an unprecedented economic meltdown that has blocked access to an estimated total of $170 billion in foreign currency deposits.
The crisis is considered one of the 10, possibly three, worst financial crises in the world since the mid-1800s, according to the World Bank.
The situation declined further after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced his resignation this week, taking the vital government formation process back to the first block.