An-Nahar newspaper wrote in the manchette on Tuesday 1/4/2020:
It seems that the dollar crisis has reached an advanced stage after the banks almost completely stopped providing their depositors with the vital currency necessary for the conduct of some urgent matters, which led to a rise in the price of the dollar against the lira at some cashiers to more than 3 thousand pounds. While banking sources attributed the loss of the dollar to the closure of Beirut airport, she made it clear that banks import the cash dollar from abroad, which is no longer available due to the inability of the currency shipping companies to transfer them from the country of origin to other countries, which means that the loss of the dollar is not limited to Lebanon, but there is a lack of green currency in all countries of the world, even in the United States, where banks do not allow the withdrawal of more than 4 thousand dollars per week, pointing out that in Egypt, too, it is prohibited to withdraw more than 10 thousand pounds per day, or 500 dollars.
“France Presse” quoted a banking official as saying that the banks stopped withdrawals in dollars, pending the reopening of the airport, which was closed as part of public mobilization procedures in the face of the spread of Corona virus, especially after the government last week extended the period of mobilization, in effect since the middle of March The decision includes keeping the airport closed until April 12, adding that “dollar importers have stopped working.”
But the sources of the shipping companies made it clear that they are operating normally because the general mobilization excluded them from the decision, and that they continue to ship dollars and other currencies.
In contrast, a problem arises from depositors in dollars, as they will have to withdraw their money based on the official exchange rate, i.e. 1520 pounds. And when there were demands that a circular from the Bank of Lebanon should be issued specifying the exchange rate of the dollar in banks at the market price after it was not possible to set it at the cashiers, the sources of the Association of Banks excluded the ruler Riyad Salamah’s resort to this measure, especially since he repeatedly stated that the dollar will remain at its official price. The same sources are concerned about the negative impact on inflation and the ratio of public debt in the event that the official price of the dollar is raised to what is the exchange rate at the cashiers. But the fear is exacerbated by the country’s continued inability to set a ceiling for the exchange rate, which makes the prices of imported goods unstable and is likely to rise further in light of the suffocating living crisis.
Financially, the Council of Ministers approved financial assistance 400,000 pounds for the neediest families, which the army distributes. He agreed with the ministerial committee’s proposal regarding the return of expatriates, with some detailed amendments, provided that the plan will be implemented next Sunday.
And in a matter related to money as well, the financial appointments were tentatively settled in 13 centers, and the Council of Ministers will vote on them tomorrow, Thursday, in its session in Baabda, in light of the crossed information from more than one concerned party, on an initial agreement to distribute their shares within the governmental forces.
In this context, he learned that all appointments will be new names and from the specialists, after Prime Minister Hassan Diab insisted on not returning any old name, and both the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the House of Representatives agreed to this.
Three or four nominations have been submitted for each center of specialists and expertise in the fields of economics and finance, and the Minister of Finance proposes these nominations to the Council of Ministers, who votes on them in translation of the political consensus, which was reported to have been initially achieved around them in the last hours. All the nominated names and the CVs of the candidates have been distributed to the ministers.
Government sources confirm that these appointments will bear witness to the approved standard being competence and experience, and that the names will not be politically calculated on anyone, even if they are close to one party or another. These sources indicate that he is wrong to consider that the noise of political positions affects the reform path that President Diab has made for his government in its work.