Lebanon’s money dealers agree to exchange limits

Lebanon’s licensed money changers returned to work on Wednesday after a month-long strike. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Lebanon’s money dealers agree to exchange limits

  • In late April, Lebanon’s central bank said foreign currency dealers could not sell US dollars for more than 3,200 pounds
  • Ninety foreign currency dealers closed by authorities for breaking exchange rate rules were allowed to reopen

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s licensed money changers returned to work on Wednesday after a month-long strike, saying they will adhere to price ceilings for the buying and selling of US dollars.

Money dealers agreed to buy US dollars for a minimum of 3,950 Lebanese pounds and sell at a top rate of 4,000 pounds.

The pound has fallen by about 60 percent from the official exchange rate of 1,507.5 pounds since October, with US dollars becoming increasingly scarce.

In late April, Lebanon’s central bank said foreign currency dealers could not sell US dollars for more than 3,200 pounds.

Financial authorities also arrested several money dealers, including Mahmoud Murad, head of the Syndicate of Money Changers, and his deputy, Elias Sorour, on charges of exchange rate manipulation.

Ninety foreign currency dealers closed by authorities for breaking exchange rate rules were allowed to reopen on Wednesday.

Murad, who was released several days ago, told Arab News that “the first working day after the strike was cautious and the market was confused.”

He said people were reluctant to sell or buy US dollars because of confusion over an exchange rate mechanism agreed by Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Bank of Lebanon chief Riad Salameh.

The mechanism requires compliance with a central bank circular, which fixes the exchange rate at 3,200 Lebanese pounds, with a gradual decline in value in coming days.

Murad said: “Money changers have adhered to the specified price ceiling so far, and we hope that things will stabilize and the dollar will return to its official price of 1,507 Lebanese pounds, especially since the country needs cash stability and there is anger on the streets.”

However, activists warned of further protests and unrest, saying the government had failed to consider people’s needs in reform plans outlined during talks with the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday.

Jad Lezeik, of the Li Haqqi (For my rights) movement, told Arab News: “We are preparing to take to the streets in Beirut on Saturday to complete the goals of our Oct. 17, 2019, uprising.

“People should be able to provide food, housing and education for their children. The government has failed to address these needs. Its reform plan is hostile to the people,” he said.

Lebanese people “are afraid of the unknown future that awaits them,” Lezeik said.

Activist groups have returned to the streets in recent days, with some staging sit-ins outside the homes of officials and ministers.

With the next phase of the country’s mobilization to be decided on Thursday, Lebanon’s leaders, including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Diab, told UN Security Council envoys that the government will agree to extend the UNIFIL forces’ mandate “without modifying their numbers and tasks.”

Aoun asked UNIFIL to strengthen its partnership with the Lebanese army, saying that “limited incidents that occurred between groups of UNIFIL and some citizens in southern villages do not reflect any negative climate against UNIFIL forces.”

US envoy to Lebanon Dorothy Chia told the meeting that UNIFIL soldiers are present to implement Resolution 1701 in full.

“I do not think we can say that the full implementation of this decision has taken place. So we need to consider increasing the effectiveness of UNIFIL to its maximum extent,” she said.

 


UAE warns of $13,600 fine for returnees who break quarantine rules

Updated 16 July 2020

UAE warns of $13,600 fine for returnees who break quarantine rules

  • Quarantine period vary from seven days to 14, depending on where the returnees are coming from

DUBAI: UAE residents who are returning from overseas must comply with quarantine rules or face a fine of $13,600, local daily Gulf News has reported.
The government earlier announced it would ease travel restrictions to a number of countries, with airlines set to resume operations by Aug. 1.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) said those who are returning to the UAE “should follow federal and local guidelines for COVID-19,” including quarantine and test procedures.
Returnees coming from low-risk countries are required to isolate for seven days, while those travelling from high-risk areas are subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
“All costs for quarantining and medical assistance, whether at home or in another designated facility will be at the cost of the individual primarily,” NCEMA said.
Meanwhile, individuals who wish to take a rapid coronavirus test to enter Abu Dhabi can only do so through a booking system.
The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said prior appointment is necessary to undergo the screening due to high demand.
Booking can be done on a dedicated website.