Yesterday, the Central Bank of Lebanon announced that depositors of existing accounts on October 2019 will be able to receive $400 per month, in addition to its equivalent in Lebanese pounds.
Lebanese banks have blocked depositors and their dollar accounts, and withheld money transfers abroad, since the outbreak of the financial crisis in late 2019.
According to a Central Bank circular issued last year, depositors are entitled to withdraw from their dollar accounts, with payment in local currency, but at a price of 3900 pounds to the dollar.
That price is no more than about a third of the dollar’s value on the black market, which recorded up to 13,000 pounds to the dollar yesterday, but it is the only way for many Lebanese to access their savings.
When a circular was issued last year, the price of the black market in Lebanon was about half its current level. Lebanese account holders who withdraw at 3900 pounds suffer a loss of about 70 percent, and there are calls for the Central Bank to raise that price.
Yesterday’s decision gives depositors up to $800, at an exchange rate close to the market rate, after two days of chaos in the financial sector.
The Central Bank said in a statement: It is scheduled to issue a circular later that will specify the details of the decision, which will enter into force on the first of July, and will be applied to the value of the accounts, as at the end of March 2021.
The Central Bank had issued a statement, last Wednesday, that it would stop the withdrawal at the fixed price of 3900 pounds, without elaborating.
But he quickly retreated, yesterday, the day before, after the outbreak of protests, to reassure the governor of the Central Bank of depositors that he had not gone bankrupt, and that the Lebanese deposits were safe and would recover them.