His Excellency Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, chaired today a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail. The Council of Ministers broached the general situation in the country, especially the financial situation.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, and the president of the Association of Banks, Salim Sfeir, attended the first part of the session, with discussions touching on the reality of the money market and the black market’s ongoing operation.
The Cabinet listened to the governor’s justifications about the ineffectiveness of the measures taken by the Central Bank to curb the US dollar price surge on the black market; Mr. Salameh indicated that the volume of trading in the official dollar price, on the basis of 1515 LBP, amounted to about 70 percent of the volume of trading in US dollars; he added that the trading market’s size in the BdL money changers’ platform, on the basis of the exchange rate set at 3900 LBP, and the volume of coverage for subsidized food and consumer goods ranged between 15 and 20 percent of the trading market size, which means that the black market’s trading size does not exceed 10 to 15 percent and that the BdL does not interfere in it.
As for the president of the Association of Banks, he pointed out to the negative atmosphere reported by the press and social media.
With regard to electricity, the Cabinet listened to the explanation given by the Minister of Energy on the causes of power outages and the late arrival of the fuel ships.
The council also discussed price increases, and decided to assign 51 health monitors and 43 controllers from the Ministry of Tourism to assist the controllers of the Ministry of Economy in monitoring food prices which will be published on the website of the Ministry of Economy.
Subsequently, the Cabinet moved to agenda items discussion and took the following decisions:
1. Extension of the general mobilization up to 2/8/2020 inclusive.
2. Approval of the request made by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to settle the working conditions of investors operating at Rafik Hariri International Airport – Beirut as a result of the worsening economic and financial situation and its negative impact on investment activity at the airport.
3. Approval of the Ministry of Justice’s request to issue a license to purchase 10 prepaid or postpaid mobile data lines for internet use only from one of the two authorized mobile phone companies and to pay the subscription bills to enable judges to remotely interrogate the detainees in prisons by electronic means, without transporting them from prisons to the justice palace in light of the measures and procedures taken to combat coronavirus epidemic.
4. Approval of the term extension, until the end of September, of:
– Decision No. 13 of 12/3/2020 (increasing the local internet speed and volume for customers subscribed with the Ministry of Telecommunications/Ogero.
– Decree No. 6254 of 9/4/2020 (reduction in the additional international and local capacities required by internet companies and information transfer companies).
5. Preparation of an expedited draft law to help authorized tourist establishments overcome the economic crisis.
6. Pending the end of the work conducted by the commission responsible for completing the amendments to Decree No. 8803 dated 4/10/2002 and its amendments, the Council has decided to allow the transfer and disposal of sand, gravel or rock stocks as of the date of issuance of the present decision, for a maximum period of two months, and after duly obtaining a request transfer from the governors (mohafez), while excluding the transfer on Saturday and Sunday of each week, and without granting any right to relevant investors as per this decision.