BDL Reverses Decision To Remove Lebanon’s ‘Bank Rate’ After Just 24 Hours

People Can Still Withdraw Lollars At 3,900 LBPUSD In Lebanon After All
Al-Akhbar/Haytham Al-Musawi

Central Bank Circular 151, which allows people to withdraw their U.S. dollar deposits at the 3,900 LBP/USD exchange rate, will remain in effect, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh announced on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference following a meeting headed by President Michel Aoun and attended by President of the Shura Council, Judge Fadi Elias, Salameh confirmed that Circular 151 remains active despite the Council’s recent decision to freeze it.

The decision to continue implementing the circular, Salameh said, was made because the Banque du Liban (BDL) did not receive “a valid copy of the preparatory decision of the State Shura Council to suspend its implementation, and submitted a review to the aforementioned council that included new additional elements that were not included in the file.”

Answering a reporter’s question, Salameh stressed that people’s deposits “are not gone,” adding that a circular would soon be issued to return deposits to their owners.

He also stressed that the BDL “is not bankrupt.”

The Shura Council had ruled on Wednesday in favor of three lawyers who had appealed Circular 151 months prior.

This meant that the Lebanese would lose the ability to withdraw dollar (“lollar”) deposits at the exchange rate set by the Central Bank for Lebanese banks, which is 3,900 Lebanese pounds for a U.S. dollar, leaving them with the official rate of 1,515 as the only option.

As a result, the move sparked anger and protests across the country.

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