Lebanese Central Bank to Intervene in Currency Market to Stabilise Pound Rate

BEIRUT (Sputnik) – Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Thursday that the country’s Central Bank would interfere with the currency exchange market to support the Lebanese pound rate against the US dollar starting on Thursday as part of measures to recover the national economy.

"I am well aware of people’s suffering from the increase in the US dollar-Lebanese pound exchange rate and of an impact of this rise on the food and consumer goods’ prices. … I hereby declare that we have already taken some measures, and Central Bank Head [Riad Salameh] has made a promise to intervene in the currency market beginning today to support the Lebanese pound and curb the high exchange rate of the US dollar," Diab said in a speech marking the 100th day since his government came to power.

According to the prime minister, Beirut has developed a plan for facilitating imports of basic foodstuffs.

"There will be follow-up mechanisms, which will monitor a decline in food prices on a daily basis. Thus, the Lebanese people will soon see a price reduction," the minister noted.

In mid-May, the International Monetary Fund said that it would continue talks with the country’s authorities to help Lebanon address the challenging economic and social hardships in a bid to restore the national economy.

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The Middle Eastern nation — one of the most indebted in the world — has been facing a severe economic crisis. Its national currency plunged against the dollar last year, causing prices for bread and other necessities to soar. The situation prompted nationwide protests in October that unseated the previous government headed by Saad Hariri.

In late April, a new wave of protests began in Lebanon for all the same reasons — a sharp drop in the value of the local currency and an increase in food prices. In response, the government endorsed an economic reform plan aimed at dealing with the nation's deepening financial crisis.

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