President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, chaired an economic, financial, security and judicial meeting, today, attended by Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, ministers, heads of security apparatuses, Cassation Attorney General, Central Bank Governor and officials.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Aoun asserted that the security-financial situation requires to be addressed quickly “Since we are witnessing an unjustified rise in the US Dollar exchange rate, in conjunction with rumors aimed at striking the national currency, and destabilizing stability”.
“This reality requires swift and decisive measures to be taken, to prosecute those manipulating the livelihood of the Lebanese by raising prices in an unjustified manner. As for the procedures, they are of financial, judicial and security nature” the President said, warning of the seriousness of recent events because of the repercussions on social security and the threat on national security.
President Aoun then asked concerned departments and authorities to suppress violations, especially the manipulation of the prices of foodstuff, their monopoly and depriving the citizens of them.
In addition, the President stressed that “It is not permissible to continue in this chaos, which harms people-livelihood, calling on security apparatuses and competent departments to carry-out their duties in this field”, asking security apparatuses to disclose all plans put in place to harm the country, especially after the availability of data concerning the existence of external bodies and platforms working on striking the state’s finance.
The President also tackled the security situation and said that if citizens have the right to express their views, road closure is an insult to the citizens’ right of transportation and going to their works, especially after the weeks of lockdown imposed by public mobilization to confront Corona pandemic.
“Blocking roads is unacceptable. Security and military apparatuses must fully carry out their duties and implement the laws without hesitation, especially since the matter has gone beyond the expression of opinion, to an organized act of sabotage aimed at striking stability” President Aoun said.
Finally, the President warned the Lebanese about the danger of the slogans raised with the intention of harming homeland unity, stirring up discord and undermining the state and its symbols, stressing that he is continuing in his reform program despite all pressures. “I have come to bring the change which the Lebanese seek and I will not back down” President Aoun asserted.
Then, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said:
“The current situation which we have reached is extremely dangerous. There are those who are manipulating the US Dollar exchange rate, as they want, who are also controlling the fate of the country.
Is it acceptable that unknown platforms control the US Dollar exchange rate, when the state is unable to confront these platforms?! These platforms are political, not financial. Therefore, the real goal of these platforms is not to set the exchange rate on the black market, but rather they aim to devastate Lebanon by affecting the social and living reality to push people out to the streets.
The problem is that these platforms, although they do not actually reflect the Dollar exchange rate, have become a reference for money changers, as well as for traders in various types of goods. There are those who are pushing the country towards collapse. Dealing with this issue should be firm in blocking the way for tampering with the fate of the country by a party or parties which conspire against the people and their livelihood, in addition to tampering with social stability and national security.
Concerning smuggling and storage, frequent meetings were help with concerned ministers and heads of security apparatuses, during which clear and decisive directives were given to prevent smuggling and monopoly.
On 23/2/2021, I issued a decision mandating the Defense, Interior, Finance and Economy Ministers to develop an integrated plan to strictly implement measures which would combat monopoly and price manipulation, especially in foodstuffs and basic citizen-needs, in addition to tightening control over all border crossings, especially land crossings. Directives have also been given to establish a joint operations room which includes concerned ministries and security apparatuses, to take operational measures in order to implement all directives.
I also asked the Discrimination Attorney General to give the necessary directives to security apparatuses to prevent smuggling and to regulate this issue, especially taking legal measures against those who intentionally use old videos to create additional reactions by part of the citizens”.
Then, several participants spoke about the financial, monetary and security conditions, and the need to form a new government in accordance with the principles and provisions of the constitution that would undertake the implementation of reforms and economic recovery was emphasized.
After discussion and deliberation, it was decided:
First: To assign all security apparatuses to arrest all who violate the provisions of the Currency and Credit Law and the Law Regulating Money Exchange Profession, whether they are licensed or unlicensed money changers who practice speculation.
Second: To assign security apparatuses, based on the judiciary’s indication, to work to complete the closure of the local illegal electronic platforms and groups which set the Price of the US dollar vs Lebanese Pound, and to continue communicating for this purpose with international official bodies and global electronic platforms based on applicable international laws.
Third: To assign concerned ministries and security apparatuses to work to control the use of foreign currency except for commercial, industrial or health sectoral purposes, in order to secure basic citizen requirements.
Fourth: To assign the Foreign Affairs Ministry to intensify diplomatic work to urge donor countries to help the displaced Syrians, in their homeland.
Fifth: To emphasize the necessity and importance of preparing and approving the draft law known as Capital Control.
Sixth: To request security and military apparatuses not to allow road closure, taking into account preserving the safety of citizens, demonstrators and public and private properties.