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But the circular issued on Friday said deposits of $3,000 or less could be withdrawn in Lebanese pounds at a “market” rate, allowing small depositors to cash out despite tight banking controls.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.