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Lebanon: Citizens cannot access money in banks since late 2019

February 27, 2021 at 1:11 pm

Demonstrators and security forces clash outside banks in Beirut in a protest against the economic conditions on 28 April 2020 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]

Allegations that authorities in Lebanon have smuggled money out of the country have sparked widespread anger here when one considers that Lebanese have not been able to withdraw money from banks since October 17, 2019, Anadolu Agency reports.

Following protests that started in 2019 because of the financial crisis, banks tightened limits on foreign currency withdrawals to $200 – $300 per week. And when the coronavirus pandemic began, cash withdrawal from those accounts were completely halted and a limit was set on local currency.

While banks, which face liquidity problems due to the crisis, kept deposits of Lebanese for nearly one-and-a-half years on grounds of preventing an outflow of capital, allegations that billions of dollars were transferred abroad by administrators caused an uproar.

Lebanese economists told Anadolu Agency that banks gave money belonging to customers to the Central Bank and in turn offered the deposits as loans to the state that is incapable of paying its debts.

Economic and political situation in Lebanon

The blast in the Port of Beirut in August 2020 created a new government crisis along with growing economic troubles in Lebanon, which has long struggled with high public debt and unemployment.

Prime Minister Hassan Diyab’s government resigned August 10, 2020, following the reactions after the explosion but a new government could not be established for months due to disagreements between political groups.

Considering the political forces and rulers as the cause of the economic crisis, the people of Lebanon demand the establishment of a diminished government consisting of technocrats, without sectarian political parties that have shared power for many years.

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