The central bank recently started to inject the promised U.S. dollars into the Lebanese market. But how much foreign currency exactly is flowing from the Banque du Liban?
In Lebanon, the daily requirement for imports alone is approximately $6 million. As per Al-Joumhouria, the central bank is set to inject a total of $30 million, and these will reportedly suffice money exchange institutions for no more than 6 days.
This roughly translates to $5 million a day. As Vice President of the Syndicate of Money Changers in Lebanon Mahmoud Halawi said, this flow of dollars should cause a “positive shock” that will lead to a decrease in general prices and the suppression of the black market.
The Lebanese government, along with the injection, is implementing various steps, the latest of which was the General Security’s new landlines for receiving citizens’ complaints about money changers, to ensure the black market is kept at bay.
However, so far, this does not seem to be translating well on the ground. While licensed money changers are forced to conform with the fixed daily exchange rate (selling: 3860, buying: 3910), those in the black market are not.
According to numerous reports, even after the new measures took effect on Monday, unlicensed money changers have been buying and selling US dollars for well over 4,000 LBP/USD (as much as 4,800 for selling).
This has caused noticeable chaos in the market due to citizens buying dollars from the licensed institutions and then selling them in the black market to earn some profit, and this then drains dollars from the white market.
It’s worth noting that each citizen has a fixed buying quota of $200, with any orders exceeding this amount (for parents who send money to their children abroad, for example) requiring varying degrees of prerequisites and paperwork.
On the other hand, the promise to satisfy the importers’ and citizens’ overwhelming demand for the foreign currency does not seem to be fulfilled thus far, given the practical difficulty of acquiring more than the specified quota for the regular citizen.