Lebanese pound up after BDL announcement

Exchange dealers were selling the dollar for LL12,400 and buying it for LL12,300, up from Saturday's average of LL12,750

  
U.S. dollar banknotes and Lebanese pounds are pictured at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon March 2, 2021.

U.S. dollar banknotes and Lebanese pounds are pictured at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon March 2, 2021.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT: The Lebanese pound rose against the dollar Monday, trading at LL12,350 on the black market, after the Central Bank said it was looking into a mechanism through which depositors could have access to their funds.

Exchange dealers were selling the dollar for LL12,400 and buying it for LL12,300, up from Saturday's average of LL12,750.

The Central Bank said late Sunday it was in talks with local banks to come up with a system that could gradually grant depositors up to $25,000 of their money in instalments.

"These funds will be in instalments over a period of time that the Central Bank will decide soon," it said in a statement adding that payments were expected to start at the end of June, if "legal cover" was provided. A Central Bank source told AFP that this meant "the adoption by Parliament of a law on capital controls."

The Central Bank said the new payment mechanism would be applicable for all deposits in all currencies dating to before Oct. 2019 and as they stood at end of March 2021.

The bank also said it would launch the SAYRAFA platform, that is, the electronic platform for exchange operations with the participation of banks and money changers "with what this platform provides in terms of transparency in prices and its subscribers, so that it does not include illegal cashiers."

It said it would intervene when necessary to control fluctuations in the exchange market prices, bearing in mind that the price will be determined by the market movement that will be open to individuals and institutions.

The local currency has lost some 85 percent of its value over the past 18 months amid an acute economic and financial crisis that has threatened to destabilize the country.

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