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Concern increases as Lebanese economy collapses

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Jan Kubis, U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon, lamented on the sorry state of the Lebanese economy with Lebanese politicians watching as it collapses.

Lebanon has been adrift since the government was toppled by the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in October as a result of protests against corruption and bad governance that are root causes of the economic crisis.

“Another day of confusion around the formation of a government, amidst the increasingly angry protests and free-falling economy,” Jan Kubis, U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon, wrote on Twitter. “Politicians, don’t blame the people, blame yourselves for this dangerous chaos.”

He also noted that central bank (BDL) governor Riad Salameh had requested extraordinary powers to manage the economy – an apparent reference to his request for more authority to regulate controls being implemented by commercial banks.

“Lebanon is truly unique – the BDL Governor requesting extraordinary powers to at least somehow manage the economy while those responsible watch it collapsing. Incredible,” Kubis wrote.

Day after anti-government protests in Beirut
People look at a damaged window at a Bank of Beirut branch a day after anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon, 15 January 2020. EPA-EFE/WAEL HAMZEH

Seeking to avoid capital flight, Lebanon’s commercial banks have been restricting savers’ access to their deposits and blocking most transfers abroad for more than two months. The measures have not however been formalised in capital controls.

In another development, Lebanon has regained its full voting rights at the United Nations after paying part of what it owes the world body, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Under U.N. rules, a country can lose its General Assembly vote if is in arrears by any amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for the previous two years, unless it shows evidence of an inability to pay that is beyond its control.

Dujarric announced on Friday that Lebanon had lost its vote, along with Venezuela, Central African Republic, Gambia, Lesotho, Tonga and Yemen. It was not immediately clear how much Lebanon had paid and how much the country still owed.


Read more via Reuters

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