As stringent and unfair banking procedures with depositors —especially small depositors continue, such as preventing withdrawals in US dollars, BdL issued a circular that allows small depositors whose total assets do not exceed 5 million Lebanese pounds or $3000 to withdraw their money in LBP denomination at the market exchange rate—oppose to the official exchange rate.
Today, the banks set the rate of exchange that will be used this week under this policy at 2600L.L/USD. The exchange operations are available pending the establishment of the electronic trading platform by Bank du Liban which will regulate and monitor the daily exchange operations.
As a result, the dollar prices today are as follows:
Official banking exchange rate: 1515L.L/$
Exchange rate for small depositors: 2600L.L/$
Licensed exchange house price: 2830L.L/$
Black Market: 2900L.L/$
Ever since this circular was issue by BdL, many questions have arisen about the dimensions and reasoning behind its implementation.
Dr. Hareth Slaiman, activist and economic expert, warned in a statement to Janoubia that: “ This measure will enable the closure of almost 1,715,000 accounts that contain $344m, in addition to another $452m in Lebanese pounds equivalent, totaling up to 795 million US dollars.” Slaiman added: “All these measures are a prelude to inevitable capital control measures that will be implemented regardless of whether Nabih Berri approves or disapproves”.
Slaiman concludes: “As a result of these measures, BdL will inject about one thousand billion Lebanese Liras into circulation while the banks seize up to $344 million in deposits from small account holders in Lebanon.”
It is uncertain what future capital control measures will hold, but it seems depositors who hold medium to large accounts (>$3000) are seeing their chances of recovering their money continuously decrease.
In the short-term however, further currency devaluation is expected due to the injection of more Lira into the market which will cause further decrease in the value of the Lira against the dollar. This will affect all Lebanese people regardless of the size of their accounts.