Lebanon’s central bank extends ceiling free dollars purchases until end of October

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Lebanon’s central bank on Friday extended a circular allowing banks to purchase an unlimited amount of US dollars on its Sayrafa exchange platform until the end of October, a central bank statement said.

On Wednesday, Lebanon’s finance ministry said the official exchange rate of 1,507 pounds per dollar would be replaced with one of 15,000, calling this a step toward unifying multiple rates that have emerged during Lebanon’s three-year long financial crisis.

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But after declaring a November 1 implementation date, the ministry later linked the step to approval of a financial recovery plan, the latest version of which is being discussed in parliament.

Some economists and politicians saw this as a government retreat: the recovery plan, which must address a $72 billion hole in the national finances, has been in dispute since 2019.

The pound’s market value currently stands at 38,000 to the dollar, a devaluation of more than 95 percent since Lebanon collapsed into a financial crisis that has plunged swaths of the population into poverty.

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