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Lebanese PM Pledges to Protect Small Bank Depositors

Lebanese PM Pledges to Protect Small Bank Depositors

Friday, 10 April, 2020 - 07:30
President Michel Aoun chairs a cabinet meeting on Thursday. (Dalati & Nohra)
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab pledged on Thursday to protect small bank deposits, however, he fell short of revealing when depositors would be allowed to access their money.

“Ask the Governor of the Central Bank (Riad Salameh),” Diab replied when asked by a journalist when they would be able to withdraw their money from local banks.

Following a cabinet session at the Baabda palace on Thursday, the PM said the US dollar exchange rate crisis remains a major problem that needs to be resolved, pledging to protect 90 percent of the country's depositors, most of whom have relatively small accounts.

Since last October, the exchange rate of the dollar against the Lebanese pound in the parallel market registered an unprecedented rise, lately exceeding LBP 2,800. The devaluation of the pound is mainly due to the decline in the dollar’s supply in the market, as a result of bank restrictions that prevent depositors from withdrawing their money.

During Thursday’s cabinet session, ministers listened to a presentation by Governor Salameh on the current financial and monetary conditions in the country and the measures taken by the Central Bank.

Asked about the financial audit issue, Diab said: “Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni should soon choose an audit company tasked with conducting an audit operation and issuing a report on the current situation.”

Meanwhile, the government decided to extend the general health mobilization due to the coronavirus outbreak for an additional two weeks, until April 26 based on the recommendations of the Higher Defense Council.

The decision came following concerns the virus cases may again spike, similar to what happened in countries that had eased their preventive measures.

“Diab stressed that the government has so far succeeded in curbing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic and all ministers have carried out their duties,” Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

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