Syrian Central Bank unifies bank account opening fees

Cham Bank in Damascus - December 26, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Sarah al-Ahmad)

Cham Bank in Damascus - December 26, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Sarah al-Ahmad)

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The Central Bank of Syria (CBS) issued a circular unifying the costs imposed on citizens for opening a new bank account to receive future financial support.

According to the circular issued on Wednesday, July 10, all operating banks are directed to set a maximum amount charged to customers for opening a bank account at ten thousand Syrian pounds only, covering the cost of fees, stamps, and direct costs borne by the bank.

The account opening fees differ from the amount citizens must deposit into their new accounts. The bank set the amount to be deposited as a balance in the account at ten thousand Syrian pounds as well.

The bank set the maximum cost of the bank card charged to the customer at 25 thousand Syrian pounds to minimize the imposed costs on customers.

The circular stressed the need for banks to inform customers of the services linked to the bank account (ATM card, electronic services, etc.) and their costs, leaving the choice to the customer without imposing them.

The circular was a response to the disparity in the costs imposed on customers when opening a bank account and the excessive costs imposed by some banks.

At the end of last June, the Syrian government required all citizens holding a smart card to open bank accounts within three months, in preparation for transferring financial support amounts to them once the financial support system is fully ready, without specifying when the financial support distribution would start.

The government considered that the requirement to open bank accounts is related to enabling citizens to fully receive their support entitlements and preventing any potential or existing intermediaries from encroaching on these entitlements, without specifying them.

Although previous discussions on converting support to cash were met with government justifications of inability, the government has recently hinted at the seriousness of this proposal.

A comprehensive report by Enab Baladi discussed the feasibility of converting support to cash and its objectives in light of the current government approach, as well as the impact of this approach on citizens and subsidized goods alike.

 

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