Unions of several vital sectors in Lebanon await on Sunday the outcomes of talks between government representatives to decide whether to renew an open-ended strike on Monday morning over a shortage in US dollar, required for importing their goods and basic products.
In the past days, the government had repeatedly confirmed the absence of any currency crisis in the country, saying it was a fabricated one. However, the monetary crisis linked to the rise in the value of the US dollar against the national currency, threatens to trigger several protest movements that could paralyze Lebanon on Monday.
Traders buy the goods in USD and sell them to the consumers in Lebanese pounds, amid the Central Bank’s inability to control the game.
Three major sectors are affected by the price of the Lebanese lira against the dollar: fuel, bread and medicine. Gas Station Owners' Syndicate and fuel distributors, Sami Brax told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that if the government does not convince the distributing companies to pay the price of fuel in Lebanese pounds, which was the case in the past, then all gas stations should close on Monday.
For his part, head of the Union of Bakeries, Kazem Ibrahim told Asharq Al-Awsat that halting work in the sector due to the economic crisis caused by the increasing exchange rates, awaits the outcome of talks currently held between bakeries and the Central Bank. Lebanese bakeries sell bread and its derivatives in the Lebanese pound, while they must pay for the flour and other substances in USD.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese government exerts efforts to contain the dollar crisis through a series of measures, next to the Central Bank decision to find a way out of the crisis and to control the price of foreign currencies in the markets.
The measures also including forcing exchange firms to respect the official price of the rate set by the Central Bank, with only a small margin of profit.