Source: call home
Basema Atwi wrote in Nidaa Al-Watan:
The decision of the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, to allow first-class money changers to sell dollars at a price of 90,000 pounds, did not last more than 48 hours. As it was canceled on Wednesday afternoon, as the money changers reported, many of whom confirmed to “Nidaa Al-Watan” that “the decision came as a surprise, because their customers were asking about the date of starting its implementation, especially after procrastination and seizing the money that they lived with the banks.”
From a technical point of view, the decision required a legal mechanism that would allow money changers to carry out this task, due to the inadmissibility of citizens “depositing money” with them. As for its financial and political implications, the decision is a new intervention by the Banque du Liban, (last Monday afternoon) through a circular in which commercial banks and money changers (class A) were allowed to sell the dollar at a price of 90,000 pounds, and hand it over to citizens after 3 days. It is classified as an attempt to stop the new collapse in the Lebanese pound, after the price of the black market dollar reached approximately 145,000 pounds per dollar. And it will result, “according to a banking source for” Nidaa Al-Watan, “a temporary lull in the black market that gives the political system not long time, to try to limit the dangerous deviations that control the monetary scene in Lebanon.”
The source adds: “This intervention produced an immediate calm in the price of the black market dollar, and led to its decline to between 105 and 110 thousand pounds on Monday evening. And as expected, the banks did not stop idly by investing in this circular, as they announced the end of their strike and the possibility for their customers to conduct exchange operations at the announced price.
The number of licensed money changers in Lebanon is about 335, and they are divided into two categories: “A”, which includes licensed money changers, and their number is about 48, whose names are listed on the Banque du Liban website.
And the head of the Money Changers Syndicate, Antoine Maroun, explains to “Nidaa Al-Watan” that “the reason for canceling the circular by the Central Governor is that the Lebanese law does not allow the citizen to deposit his money with the money changers to convert them into dollars. It is impossible for the money changers of the parties,” considering that “the mechanism that was put in place so that the money changers of the first category could receive the money was complicated, and therefore it was canceled.”
Maroun refuses to enter into an interpretation of this step, and whether it was an attempt by the “Central” to push the banks to suspend their strike, considering that “the people of Makkah know better about its paths.”
In the balance of interests and losses, the volume of the cash block liberated in lira amounts to 69 thousand billion Lebanese pounds, (according to the Central Bank’s estimates until the middle of this month), which theoretically means, according to the banking source, “that its complete drying requires an injection of about 770 million dollars. What the Central Bank is trying to do through banking is to control less than half of these amounts in order to contain the hot amounts that are being used in speculation. The source explains that “the ruler of the Central Bank justifies these steps by actually paving the way for the transition to the stage of restructuring and unifying exchange rates, within a system based on objective determinants, which guarantees the centralization of the role of the monetary authority in liquidity management.” However, the reality is quite the opposite.
On the other hand, economist Basem Al-Bawab told “Nidaa Al-Watan” that “the central step was aimed at stopping the rise of the black market dollar, which amounted to approximately 145,000 pounds per dollar, and in any way. Therefore, the money changers included the first category to allow them to sell the dollar at an exchange rate, in anticipation that the banks would not return from their strike, and it was later found that this step was illegal and was stopped.
He adds: “There is no great scrutiny of the legal aspects in the circulars of the Banque du Liban, and there are many of them that can be appealed if any party so desires, but there is no desire for any party to take this step, because they want the governor of the Banque du Liban to continue to control the rhythm of the market dollar price.” black, and does not rise to levels that lead to disturbances in the street ».
And he concludes: “In practice, the platform has proven to be useless, because with every increase in its price, it will increase the living burdens on the citizen instead of reducing them and in all services, and thus it has become a burden on him instead of being a reason for alleviating the financial difficulties that he is experiencing as a result of the crisis.”