‘No must panic’: Lebanon banking physique tells depositors as protests proceed

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BEIRUT (Information) – Lebanese financial institution deposits are secure and there’s no must panic, the pinnacle of the banking affiliation mentioned on Saturday, searching for to calm nerves about restrictions on some withdrawals imposed after nationwide protests.

A protester carries a flag as he stands in entrance of cops exterior of the Ministry of Overseas Affairs and Emigrants throughout a protest in Beirut, Lebanon November 9, 2019. Information/Andres Martinez Casares

Already going through the worst financial disaster because the 1975-90 civil battle, Lebanon has been pitched deeper into turmoil since Oct. 17 by a wave of rallies in opposition to the ruling elite that led Saad al-Hariri to resign as prime minister on Oct. 29.

Crowds of protestors gathered once more in central Beirut on Saturday, rising steadily into the night, waving flags and enjoying music by loudspeakers. Demonstrators additionally took to the streets in Lebanon’s second metropolis of Tripoli.

Since reopening per week in the past, banks have been searching for to stave off capital flight by blocking most transfers overseas and imposing curbs on hard-currency withdrawals, although the central financial institution has introduced no formal capital controls.

“We verify that depositors’ cash is secure and what’s taking place has nothing to do with solvency and due to this fact, no must panic,” the pinnacle of the Affiliation of Banks in Lebanon, Salim Sfeir, advised a press convention.

Sfeir spoke after assembly President Michel Aoun, the ministers of finance and financial system, the central financial institution governor and different officers over the financial scenario.

In current days, importers of gas, wheat and drugs have mentioned they confronted problem securing the overseas forex wanted for his or her purchases.

Economic system minister Mansour Bteich mentioned the Central Financial institution Governor Riad Salame reaffirmed that the funds for these strategic items had been safe, Lebanon’s al-Jadeed TV reported.

“We request the central financial institution governor, in cooperation with the banks affiliation, to facilitate the mandatory wants for depositors, specifically small depositors, to protect their financial and social scenario, along with the mandatory amenities to make sure the sustainability of the productive sectors,” Sfeir mentioned.

One protestor mentioned that folks taking to the streets was a mirrored image of the dangerous financial scenario, which she mentioned couldn’t get any worse.

“The financial scenario was so dangerous, folks couldn’t proceed anymore,” mentioned Nadine Sangari, a public sector worker.

Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil mentioned the federal government would delay a $2 billion Eurobond subject that was deliberate for the top of the month however is totally dedicated to paying its maturing debt on time.

“Lebanon is dedicated to paying maturing treasury bonds in overseas forex, Eurobonds, at their predetermined dates and this dedication is confirmed,” Khalil advised Information.

Lebanon has a $1.5 billion Eurobond maturing this month. The central financial institution has mentioned it stands able to repay Lebanon’s maturing overseas forex debt.

Reporting by Ellen Francis, Nadine Awadalla, Laila Bassam, Information TV; Modifying by Andrew Heavens and Kirsten Donovan