Lebanon Daily News Brief 9/2/2021
US Senators Urge Government Formation in Lebanon
Yesterday a US Congressional delegation in Beirut led by US Senator Chris Murphy met with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, and other political and civil society representatives. [US Embassy] They voiced hope that a government would be formed this week so that Lebanon can begin addressing its economic crises. One senator added that Hezbollah’s recent fuel deal with Iran would come with “strings attached.” [Reuters]
Another Draft Cabinet Lineup is Circulated
Sources close to government formation talks suggest that a cabinet could be agreed upon shortly. Reportedly the major obstacles of finding agreement on the interior and justice portfolios have been resolved. [Naharnet] Another cabinet draft has been circulated and published on Annahar. [Naharnet]
2022 Parliamentary Election Dates
The Lebanese Ministry of Interior has set dates for next years parliamentary elections including upcoming deadlines for registration in Lebanon in the diaspora. Election day will be held as scheduled on May 8 in Lebanon. View the full list of dates in this 961 article.
OPINION & ANALYSIS
UNIFIL Mandate Renewed With LAF Support Provision
AbiNader writes, “The first defense of UNIFIL’s role is its relationship with the LAF which has endured for 15 years and raised the LAF’s profile as the most respected government institution in the country. A key element in this has been the regular tripartite meetings among the IDF and LAF, mediated by the UNIFIL, which have been a stabilizing factor in the region as the only forum between Lebanese and Israeli representatives. The UNSC encouraged the parties to expand these meetings in order to ‘resolve the conflict and build confidence.'”
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. 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.”
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.