| 24 July 2024, Wednesday |

Diab says central bank’s obligatory reserves will be used to ward off hunger

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Monday there was no solution other than using the central bank’s obligatory foreign exchange reserves to finance the ration card.

During a televised speech, Diab said the value of the ration card is from two million to more than three million Lebanese pounds, adding “we will have to use the Lebanese central bank’s obligatory reserves so that the people won’t go hungry.”

On May 1, the caretaker premier voiced his rejection to lifting or rationalizing subsidies before providing the Lebanese society with an alternative, which consists in ration cards, he said. “We are working on a ration card and that was the reason for my visit to ‘brotherly’ Qatar,” Diab said.

“Qataris have shown willingness but the matter needs to be studied,” he added.

On April 2, Lebanon’s caretaker Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazni, said Lebanon will run out of money to fund basic imports by the end of May, and delays in launching a plan to reduce subsidies are costing $500 million a month.

As Lebanon’s economy crumbles, the central bank has asked the caretaker cabinet to decide how to gradually lift subsidies to ration remaining foreign currency reserves, Wazni told Reuters on Thursday.

“The government must speed this up. The cost of wasting time is very high. With every delay, it becomes higher,” he said.

Lebanon’s financial meltdown is fueling hunger and unrest in the country’s most severe crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

  • Sawt Beirut International