| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Lebanon’s pound trades at 11,600 against U.S. dollar

The Lebanese pound is trading today (Saturday, April 3) at 11,500/11,600 against the U.S. dollar on the black market, in a significant improvement after having plummeted to a record low of 15,000 to the dollar on March 16.

Banks have blocked access to dollar deposits, and poverty is spreading but fractious politicians have yet to launch a rescue plan that could allow foreign aid into the country and ward off further financial meltdown.

Lebanon’s already dire predicament deepened last August when a blast at Beirut’s port devastated large parts of the city, killing at least 200 people and prompting Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to resign.

But his designated successor, veteran politician Saad al-Hariri, is at loggerheads with President Michel Aoun and has yet to form a new government, which must carry out reforms before it can unlock foreign aid.

The pound remains pegged to the dollar at 1,507.5, but that rate fixed by the central bank remains available only for imports of wheat, medicine and fuel.

Caretaker Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazni, told Reuters on Thursday that 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 per month.

As Lebanon’s economy collapses, the central bank has asked the caretaker government to decide how to gradually lift subsidies to ration remaining foreign currency reserves, Wazni said.

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

  • Sawt Beirut International