Exchange Shops in Lebanon Are Refusing to Sell USD for a Week

Naharnet | Aawsat

Exchange shops across Lebanon are refusing to sell U.S. dollars for an entire week after Lebanon’s Central Bank circular was issued to cap their foreign currency purchase rate at 2,000 LBP.

The Daily Star reported having contacted on Friday multiple exchange offices to confirm the news in Beirut, and all offices claimed that “they had no more U.S. dollars to sell.”

Most shops said that they were buying U.S. dollars from customers at 2,000 LBP in line with the Central Bank’s circular. But some were reported to have been buying at 2,500 LBP due to shortages.

There are 305 licensed exchange offices across the country, while the number of unlicensed dealers is estimated to be around 400, according to the Head of the Syndicate of Money Changers, Mahmoud Murad.

Unlicensed dealers, currently unmonitored, are reportedly selling the dollar at the rate of above 2,500 LBP or more.

The Central Bank circular, issued on March 6th ordered money changers to cap their foreign currency buy rates at 30 percent more than that of the official state-set rate.

This equates to a buy rate of around 1,960 LBP to the American dollar. The circular eased the downfall of the Lebanese pound, which was trading at its worst at approximately 2,600-2,700 LBP prior to the Central Bank’s circular.

The government has reportedly decided this week to start cracking down on the unlicensed exchange houses, yet no action has been reported so far.

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