BEIRUT, Nov 10, (RTRS): Lebanese bank deposits are safe and there is no need to panic, the head of the banking association said on Saturday, seeking to calm nerves about restrictions on some withdrawals imposed after nationwide protests.
Already facing the worst economic crisis since the 1975- 90 civil war, Lebanon has been pitched deeper into turmoil since Oct 17 by a wave of rallies against the ruling elite that led Saad al-Hariri to resign as prime minister on Oct 29. Crowds of protestors gathered again in central Beirut on Saturday, growing steadily into the evening, waving flags and playing music through loudspeakers. Demonstrators also took to the streets in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli.
Since reopening a week ago, banks have been seeking to stave off capital flight by blocking most transfers abroad and imposing curbs on hard-currency withdrawals, though the central bank has announced no formal capital controls. “We confirm that depositors’ money is safe and what is happening has nothing to do with solvency and therefore, no need to panic,” the head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Salim Sfeir, told a press conference.
Sfeir spoke after meeting President Michel Aoun, the ministers of finance and economy, the central bank governor and other officials over the economic situation. In recent days, importers of fuel, wheat and medicine have said they faced difficulty securing the foreign currency needed for their purchases.