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31 Jan 2020 | 08:28 AM UTC

Lebanon: Banks to ease financial restrictions January 30 /update 86

Banque du Liban and Association of Lebanese Bank announce relaxation of informal capital measures on January 30; protests remain possible

financial
security
LBN

Event

On Thursday, January 30, Banque du Liban (BDL) and the Association of Lebanese Banks (ABL) agreed to relax informal capital control measures that have been in place in the country for several months, which have prompted protests and clashes between bank employees and clients. The key measure is the raising of the monthly withdrawal ceilings in pounds to 25 million Lebanese Pounds (LBP) (16,583 USD at the official rate) against an average of 4 to 7 million LBP. Further, transfers abroad are now capped at 50,000 USD. These policies are to be adopted at each bank's discretion.

Associated and anti-government protests over the coming days cannot be ruled out.

Context

Mass protests originally broke out on October 17, 2019, after the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The protests forced the government to revoke the tax proposal and since then the demands evolved into calling for the resignation of the government. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, and on January 21, his successor former education minister Hassan Diab, was appointed.

Advice

Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid demonstrations, anticipate a heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation and business near protest sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.