Lebanese banks set 2,600 pounds to dollar rate for small accounts

Lebanon is still applying an official peg of 1,507.5 pounds to the dollar for bank transactions and critical imports. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Lebanese banks set 2,600 pounds to dollar rate for small accounts

  • A senior banking source said this rate would be fixed

BEIRUT: Lebanese banks are to apply an exchange rate of 2,600 pounds per dollar for withdrawals from small accounts of up to 5 million Lebanese pounds, a central bank source said on Monday, in the implementation of a new circular issued on Friday.
Lebanon is still applying an official peg of 1,507.5 pounds to the dollar for bank transactions and critical imports, the governor said on Friday.
But the circular issued on Friday said deposits of $3,000 or less could be withdrawn in Lebanese pounds at a “market” rate, allowing small depositors to cash out despite tight banking controls. It also allowed for the paying out of deposits of 5 million Lebanese pounds or less.
A senior banking source said this rate would be fixed on a weekly basis and had this week been fixed at the 2,600 rate.

Lebanon will also audit its central bank's accounts in a bid to show transparency after launching debt restructuring talks with creditors, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Monday.
A crippling financial crisis that has gripped Lebanon for months saw it default on its hefty foreign-currency debt for the first time and launch restructuring talks in late March. Lebanon's coronavirus lockdown has compounded woes in a country with a weakening currency, dwindling reserves and soaring inflation.
Diab, whose cabinet has pledged to reshape the crisis-hit banking sector, made the comments on Monday in a speech at a meeting with officials from a Lebanon support group which includes the United States, Russia and France.
"Let me also highlight that His Excellency President Aoun and my government decided to perform an audit of the central bank's accounts to make good on our promise of transparency and strengthen our negotiating position in this difficult period of Lebanon's history," he said.


Greece readies revival of coronavirus-hit economy

Updated 04 June 2020

Greece readies revival of coronavirus-hit economy

  • Tourism accounts for around 20 percent of Greek gross domestic product
  • Greece desperately needs to attract visitors this year

ATHENS: Greece geared up Thursday to revive its tourism-dependent economy, which shrank in the first quarter owing to measures against the coronavirus, the Elstat data agency said.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to headline an event later in the day to unveil a national tourism campaign for the virus-shortened season.
He has already warned the country that the economy would fall into a “deep recession” this year before rebounding in 2021.
Tourism accounts for around 20 percent of Greek gross domestic product (GDP), so it is crucial that visitors be attracted back to the nation’s beaches and iconic island villages.
Toward that end, Greece has announced a ‘bridge phase’ between June 15 and 30, during which airports in Athens and Thessaloniki will receive regular passenger flights.
Other regional and island airports are to open on July 1.
Greece plans to impose a seven- to 14-day quarantine only on travelers from only the hardest-hit areas as identified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Sample tests will also be carried out at entry points for epidemiological purposes however.
Provisional data released by Elstat showed how important it is to get the tourism sector back on its feet.
GDP fell by 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the previous three months, and by 0.9 percent year-on-year, the data showed.
But data for March alone showed that month was not as bad as expected, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a press conference.
Now, “Greece is opening its gates to the world under safe conditions for tourism workers, for residents of tourism destinations and of course, for our visitors,” he said.
With fewer than 180 coronavirus deaths among 11 million residents, Greece seeks to market itself as a healthy holiday destination.
On Tuesday, Athens said it was suspending flights to and from Qatar until June 15 after 12 people on a flight from Doha tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier Thursday, Greek media reported that a first batch of nearly 190 tests among residents of the Cycladic islands, one of Greece’s most popular destinations, had turned up negative.
The country desperately needs to attract visitors this year.
The latest finance ministry estimate suggests that for 2020 as a whole, business activity could drop by up to 13 percent from the level in 2019.
Between 2009 and 2018, Greece suffered its worst economic crisis in modern times, and had begun to slowly regain some of the lost ground before it was hit by the impact of coronavirus restrictions.
The country was shut down for six weeks, and the International Monetary Fund forecast in May that GDP would decline by 10 percent this year before growing by 5.5 percent in 2021.