The bank dollar may never see the light of day!

Eva Abi Haider-

Although the prime minister has set a date for the end of May for fixing a new rate for the bank dollar, it seems unlikely that a decision will be taken now. The differences between the three parties, the Bank of Lebanon, the government and the Ministry of Finance, are still intact, as confirmed by statements from each party.

Waseem Mansouri, the acting governor of the Bank of Lebanon, recently issued a statement after Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced in a televised interview that the bank plans to fix the dollar later this month. , confirming that he will not accept any illegal action “on the right of depositors regarding the exchange rate other than the rate approved by the Bank of Lebanon or any other procedure”. Does this report change the bank dollar, especially after the bank dollar is estimated to be 25,000 to 30,000 to the dollar? Can we infer from these statements and contradictions that the bank dollar rate cannot be fixed in the future and that the issue is in limbo?

In this context, informed sources who follow Al-Jumhuriya confirm that there is still no agreement or political security for banks to set a new price for the dollar, as a new decision will be made, i.e. not set at 25 thousand. Apart from appeasing the depositors who have been subjected to huge hassles, he will once again target the issue and cause political tension as its waste and even the rights of depositors are destroyed. Therefore, the sources rule out any decision in this regard, unless there is still an option to raise the price to the dollar price corresponding to 89,500 liras in the remaining transactions.

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Sources continued: The central bank’s acting governor has since moved away from fixing the exchange rate and currently records the dollar on his books at 89,500 lira, but lends it to banks at 15,000. Thus, the move is recorded as a profit for the central bank. As for his saying that he will not accept an exchange rate other than the one approved by the Bank of Lebanon, it does not mean that he will not accept the exchange rate set by the state, as the whole matter is the secrets of this revelation. He is distancing himself from the process and setting a new exchange rate for the dollar by banks to show that his announcement is consistent with the International Monetary Fund’s directives on exchange rate stabilization.

Hammoud: Change is not possible

In the same context, Samir Hammoud, former chairman of the Banking Regulatory Commission, told Al-Jumhuriya that it is shameful to continue to propose fixing the bank dollar at 25,000 because the government must protect the weak, the depositor being the weak link. and the strength of the Bank of Lebanon has a power to protect him. Here we ask: How does the government agree to collect its taxes from the citizen at the cost of 89,500 liras, give his deposit and his lifetime income of 25 thousand, and seek to legislate by decision? While the Bank of Lebanon has set the bank dollar price at 15,000, it is discretionary, meaning that the depositor can choose whether or not to withdraw according to this price, while the government tries to legislate this decision.

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He continued: If the government issues a decision fixing the price of the bank dollar, unless the central bank agrees to sell it at the specified price, it will not take effect, and there is no bank that will accept its actual sale. Dollars are paid to depositors, and while the process is profitable for it, it relieves a third or a quarter of legal fees for depositors.

In response to a question, Hammoud this month rejected the bank’s desire to fix the dollar, saying the government should not propose it because it is shameful against its citizens and portrayed as such. A wolf instead of a good shepherd. The central bank should not accept this price for two reasons: firstly because it contradicts its approach and its constant talk of synchronizing the exchange rate, and secondly, after taking money from the banks, it is not allowed. Depositors’ money, to return it to them in currency, less than what it prints.

In addition, Hammoud felt that Mikati’s recent statement to raise the price of the banks’ dollars was a waste of time, and that it would be a disaster if the decision was announced and the banks’ dollar was pegged at 25,000. High because the government has continued its pragmatic approach since the beginning of the crisis by liquidating deposits at dollar prices that have always been unfair. Now they are talking about 25 thousand, while 89,500 liras are charged according to the dollar tax.

Hammoud believed that there was a malicious motive behind the government’s insistence on fixing the banks’ dollar limit at 25,000, the purpose being not to give depositors their money, but rather the short position banks would take after selling their dollars. The deficit is calculated at 25,000 dollars instead of 89,500 pounds, so the bank’s gap decreases and the value of its obligations decreases.

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Regarding the argument that banks price the dollar below its value to preserve the level of monetary value in the market and avoid any fluctuation in the exchange rate, he said: Is it permissible to steal depositors’ money under pretexts? Is the price of the dollar not rising on the black market, so their theft continues? Given the real price recognized in the market, i.e. 89,500 liras, why does the central bank not reduce the monthly withdrawal amount from $1,600 to $200 or $400?

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