Lebanon’s central bank seeks extra powers

A Lebanese protester carries a child as he takes part in a rally in front of a bank in the southern city of Sidon on December 30, 2019 to protest against nationwide imposed restrictions on dollar withdrawals and transfers abroad. (AFP)
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Updated 12 January 2020

Lebanon’s central bank seeks extra powers

  • Measures imposed by Lebanese commercial banks needed to be regulated and unified, a central bank letter said

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s central bank is seeking extra powers to regulate and standardise controls which commercial banks are imposing on depositors, the governor said on Sunday, saying his intention was to ensure “fair relationships” between banks and customers.

Seeking to prevent capital flight, commercial banks have been tightly controlling access to deposits and blocking most transfers abroad since October, when anti-government protests brought a long-brewing Lebanese economic crisis to a head.

The Lebanese authorities have not, however, introduced formal capital controls regulating these measures.

Central bank governor Riad Salameh, in a text message to Reuters, confirmed sending a letter to Lebanon’s finance minister on Jan. 9 seeking “exceptional powers necessary to issue regulations pertaining” to conditions in the sector.

He said no new measures were planned.

The letter, reported by Lebanese media late on Saturday, said the measures imposed by commercial banks needed to be regulated and unified “with the aim of implementing them fairly and equally on all depositors and clients.”

Lebanon’s caretaker government has not issued any statement on Salameh’s request, which was set out in a letter to caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil.

In the letter, Salameh said implementation of the controls by commercial banks had “on several occasions led to prejudicing the rights of some clients, particularly with respect to the unequal approach with other clients.”

He urged Khalil to work with the government “to take appropriate legal measures ... to entrust (the central bank)” with the necessary extra powers.

In justifying this, he cited the need to “secure the public good, to protect banking and monetary stability ... and to protect the legitimate interests of depositors and clients.”

Reflecting a hard currency shortage, commercial banks have gradually reduced the amount of dollars customers can withdraw since October. For most, the cap is now a few hundred dollars a week.

Lebanon is facing the worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war, rooted in decades of state corruption and bad governance that have landed the country with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.


Turkish Airlines may delay delivery of Airbus, Boeing planes

Updated 27 May 2020

Turkish Airlines may delay delivery of Airbus, Boeing planes

  • The carrier plans to begin some domestic flights on June 4 and international on June 10
  • Airlines chairman said the impact of the coronavirus on market could last up to five years

ISTANBUL: Turkish Airlines, which halted nearly all of its passenger flights as a result of the coronavirus crisis, may delay the delivery of some Boeing and Airbus planes, its chairman was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The carrier plans to begin some domestic flights on June 4 and some international flights on June 10 as airlines worldwide try to get planes flying again after a global travel slump.
But Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci said in an interview with Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper that the impact of the coronavirus could last up to five years and that it would take a while to reach 2019 load factor levels.
Turkish Airlines had received half of its order for 25 Boeing 787-9 planes, he said, adding that the delivery of the rest could be delayed.
The airline is in talks to take delivery of Airbus 350-900s that are ready from an order of 25, and that it was working to delay the delivery of the rest, he said.
“We are trying to lighten the serious loads that could arise. We are getting our narrow-body planes.”
Ayci said Turkish Airlines would no longer offer free in-flight food and drinks on domestic flights and other flights shorter than two hours.
He also repeated that the company would try to maintain employment, but that salaries would have to be adjusted, with the aim of supporting those paid the least.