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Lebanon to halt purchase of US dollars on Sayrafa platform

Person, Human, Money REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
The Lebanese pound has lost some 97% of its value since it began to split from the 1,507 rate in 2019

Lebanon’s central bank will halt purchases of dollars on its Sayrafa platform starting on October 25 until further notice, a statement from the central bank said on Sunday.

The statement said the bank would continue to sell exclusively dollars on its exchange rate platform.

The move is intended to strengthen the Lebanese pound after it traded at a new low of more than 40,000 to the dollar last week, bankers said.

The pound has lost more than 95 percent of its value since 2019, when it was valued at 1,500 just before the country tumbled into an economic meltdown.

Lebanon’s three-year financial crisis has pushed three-quarters of the population into poverty and food prices have risen more than 11-fold, with new price hikes seen in supermarkets this week.

After decades of pegging the currency, the central bank now offers multiple rates, including a flexible exchange rate.

Last month, Lebanon’s parliament passed its 2022 budget using an exchange rate for customs tax revenues that lies far below the market value of the Lebanese pound, falling short of economic reform measures that would pave the way for an IMF deal.