With a solution now implemented, the strike previously scheduled to start on Monday was just canceled by the involved entities, including the syndicates of fuel station owners, the fuel tanker owners, and the fuel distributors. The solution came in the form of a settlement with fuel importers in regard to the currency that should be used in transactions.
Sunday’s press conference, announcing the cancelation of the strike, witnessed the head of the syndicate of the station owners, Sami Brax, thanking the efforts of President Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, and PM Saad Hariri in reaching a solution.
The decision has been taken that the importing Lebanese companies will continue to issue bills in US dollar while getting paid in Lebanese Pounds. A “monetary mechanism” for the agreement was also asked to be implemented.
Several weeks ago, rumors spread about the rationing of US dollars by banks and money exchange shops, which triggered understandable fear among Lebanese local importers.
Lebanon’s central bank prompted to issue a statement, earlier last week, promising easier access to dollars by the importers of petroleum products, medicine, and wheat. It read as follows:
“Banks that issue letters of credit for the importation of petroleum products (petrol, fuel oil, and gas), wheat and medicine will be able to ask the Banque du Liban to ensure the value of such credits in U.S. dollars.”
The statement explained that a “special account” system will be implemented with ‘at least 15% of the value of the credit to be deposited in US dollars, as well as the full value in Lebanese pounds, and at a charge of 0.5% percent per transaction.’
The decision came as a short-time solution for the import of these key products, as per Lebanese economist Jad Chaaban, an AUB associate professor. “It’s a good measure to contain the crisis on importing these commodities and to keep the prices in check,” he said, adding that it will “ease pressure on the non-bank exchange rate.”
The Central Bank assures that the country isn’t facing a currency reserve crisis. It remained that fuel importers and owners of gas stations needed a fixed exchange rate for their imports to solve their immediate problem, which is now implemented.
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