Lebanese currency rebounces after central bank interventions

 The Lebanese currency reappreciated on Wednesday evening after it fell to a new low of more than 90,000 against the U.S. dollar on the parallel market earlier on the same day, the L’Orient Today reported on its website.

According to online applications that monitor the parallel market exchange rate, the dollar was bought at 80,000 Lebanese pounds and sold at 79,000 shortly before 9 p.m. on Wednesday evening following interventions by Banque du Liban (BDL), the central bank of Lebanon.

The new historic low of 92,000 Lebanese pounds to one dollar was recorded on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, BDL Governor Riad Salameh announced a series of measures that will take effect Thursday and will continue until further notice.

Among the measures, the central bank will buy and sell dollars at a rate of 70,000 Lebanese pounds beginning Thursday. The bank will also meet all demands for selling Lebanese pounds from individuals and companies.

The Sayrafa rate, which was designed by the central bank to try to stabilize the exchange rate and was at 45,400 Lebanese pounds as of Wednesday night, will increase to 70,000 Lebanese pounds against the dollar.

The Lebanese pound has been officially pegged at 1,507 to the dollar since 1997, a rate that has not reflected its true market value for years as the currency has been in free fall, with multiple parallel exchange rates coexisting.

The accelerated fall of the Lebanese currency in the last two weeks follows the amendment of the official fixed exchange rate from 1,507.5 Lebanese pounds to 15,000 against the dollar as of Feb. 1, 2023.

On Tuesday night, without any official announcement, authorities tripled the cost of the customs dollar, an exchange rate used to calculate customs duties on imports, from 15,000 to 45,000 Lebanese pounds against the dollar, according to L’Orient Today.

In more than three years of an acute economic crisis, the Lebanese national currency has depreciated by more than 98 percent, said the report. ■

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