Lebanon Daily News Brief 9/1/2021

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


US Congressional Delegation Meets With President Michel Aoun
Today a US Congressional delegation led by Senator Chris Murphy met with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace. Aoun told the delegation that the “cabinet formation process has made major progress” and stressed that parliamentary elections will be held on time next year. The delegation reiterated the United States’ support for the Lebanese people and assured that LAF assistance will continue. [Naharnet]

UN Allocates $10 Million to Lebanese Hospitals and Water Stations
Th UN announced that it has allocated $10 million to Lebanon through its humanitarian funds to help hospitals and water stations. The funds will be used to ensure hospitals and water stations have enough fuel to keep the power on with $6 million going to 65 hospitals, primary health care centers, and dispensaries, and $4 million to other health centers, water stations, and four water facilities. [The Daily Star]

Iranian Fuel Shipments Have Yet to Be Confirmed
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah announced almost two weeks ago that a shipment of fuel from Iran was setting sail for Lebanon. Since then, he has announced two more shipments. Tanker Trackers, a service that tracks and reports shipments of crude oil said today that its satellite imagery shows the vessels have yet to depart. It added that the first vessel should be in the southern section of the Red Sea by now, but they do not have visual confirmation of the ship. The Lebanese caretaker energy minister said today that Hezbollah has bypassed the state it its move to import the fuel. [Al Arabiya]


The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
The Central Bank’s Circulars Regulating Depositors’ Accounts

LCPS writes, “In its latest and most controversial decision, the BDL issued Circular No. 158 (on 8 June 2021), granting depositors exceptional measures concerning foreign currency cash withdrawals. The circular aims to partially compensate depositors for their dollar deposits by allowing them to withdraw the equivalent of USD 800 on a monthly basis: USD 400 in “fresh dollars” (cash) and USD 400 in the national currency at an exchange rate fixed by BDL at LBP 12,000 (the USD 400 in “fresh dollars” payment is divided evenly between BDL and the banks). The circular applies to all foreign currency accounts opened before 31 October 2019, and covers savings preceding that date. Moreover, it sets a cap on the amount of funds redeemable under its terms to USD 50,000, and stipulates that the total annual withdrawal limit in US dollars from across all banks must not surpass USD 4,800 per depositor. Circular No. 158 took effect on July 1, but was met with a lot of skepticism and reluctance by depositors for lack of clarity in many of its terms.[3] In addition, many economists and financial experts raised concerns about the potentially damaging impact of such a decision on inflation and the overall economy. The fear is that the payment of USD 400 in Lebanese pounds will increase the money supply in pounds by approximately LBP 27 trillion over a one-year period, causing hyperinflation and the weakening of the national currency against the dollar.”

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.