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Lebanon: Central Bank Targets Stable Pound in 2019

Lebanon: Central Bank Targets Stable Pound in 2019

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 10:30
Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh is seen at the Beirut economic conference in Beirut, Lebanon November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanon’s central bank aims to keep the exchange rate of its pound currency stable in 2019, the bank’s governor Riad Salameh said on Wednesday.

Lebanese bank deposits climbed by 3.5 percent in 2018, Salameh also said, Reuters reported.

“For 2019, our goals will always be for the stability of the Lebanese pound exchange rate,” he said.

“Our view of interest rates is stable.”

Salameh said the notable thing about the increase in deposits “was in the deposits in foreign currencies while the deposits in Lebanese pounds remained at the same level, raising dollarisation to 70 percent in the Lebanese markets.”

He added that Lebanon’s economic growth in 2018 was around 1 percent to 1.5 percent according to central bank studies and compared this to growth of around 2 percent in the region.

“We could have done 2 percent if the government had been formed at the appropriate time,” he said. Political deadlock is still blocking the formation of a new cabinet more than eight months after a national election.

According to Reuters, Lebanon’s public debt is one of the biggest in the world compared to GDP at around 150 percent.

Salameh noted that recent instructions to money transfer firms to pay in Lebanese pounds were related to compliance to combat money laundering.

They are "not as some tried to frame it as either to prevent transfers or to support the Lebanese pound,” he stressed.

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