BEIRUT: The Lebanese pound fell slightly against the dollar Monday, trading at around LL8,350 on the black market, as more complications arose in the stalled Cabinet formation process.
Black market exchangers were selling the dollar for LL8,400 Monday, and buying it for LL8,300. The pound was trading at around LL8,300 over the weekend.
The recent decline of the pound -- it breached LL8,000 to the dollar Wednesday for first time in four weeks -- comes as the Cabinet formation process remains at a standstill, with no solutions to be found.
The pound rose against the dollar when Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was first appointed to form a government in October, trading at around LL7,150 on the black market. However, hopes for a quick formation were dashed when rival political factions began disagreeing over their shares in the Cabinet.
A new development did emerge over the weekend however, but one that threatened to further complicate an already complicated process.
President Michel Aoun implicitly accused Hariri of deviating from a unified criterion in the formation of a new government.
The accusation reflected an escalation by him and his son-in-law, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Gebran Bassil, of their positions on the Cabinet formation process by insisting on naming most of the nine Christian ministers in Hariri’s proposed 18-member Cabinet of nonpartisan specialists to deliver urgent reforms deemed essential to unlocking promised international aid to the crises-ridden country.
The toughening of Aoun’s stance comes as Lebanon is facing multiple crises, including an economic meltdown and a crashing Lebanese pound that has lost more than 80 percent of its value since last year, putting half of the Lebanese population below the poverty line.
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