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Morning Brief

Dollar deposit repayment plan, Beirut Bar revolt, another vaccine marathon: Everything you need to know today

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, June 9

Dollar deposit repayment plan, Beirut Bar revolt, another vaccine marathon: Everything you need to know today

BDL yesterday issued a circular detailing its proposed repayment scheme for dollars lodged in bank accounts before Oct. 31, 2019. (Credit: PHB)

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Lebanese depositors should be able to withdraw the equivalent of up to $800 from their bank accounts as early as the end of this month. The proposed repayment system, laid out in a circular issued by Banque du Liban yesterday, would allow depositors whose dollars have been locked away due to informal capital controls to take out $400 in cash and the same amount in lira at an exchange rate set by BDL’s Sayrafa platform, (currently LL12,000). According to the circular, the repayment scheme will be funded by freeing up some of BDL’s mandatory reserves and tapping into funds deposited at commercial banks’ correspondent banks abroad. Commercial banks that do not comply with the circular will have to repay foreign currency to the central bank and risk penalties that range from a warning to the revocation of their license.

The Beirut Bar Association’s head, Melhem Khalaf, called on lawyers to participate in a “great uprising” against what he said was an “inefficient and unproductive” judiciary that “abuses its power to the point of lawbreaking.” Khalaf’s comments, made during a general meeting at the Beirut Palace yesterday, came as part of an ongoing strike that began in response to the detention of Rami Ollaik on May 27. Ollaik, a lawyer, was brought in for questioning over allegations of defamation against Lebanon’s top prosecutor without the bar’s prior approval, as is required by law. The incident has inflamed debates about the judiciary’s independence, prompting Khalaf to call on lawmakers to swiftly pass a bill that would promote judicial independence. The bill, first submitted by MPs in coordination with the Legal Agenda nearly three years ago, is currently under review by the caretaker justice minister and the Supreme Judicial Council.

Amid ongoing medicine shortages, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan has signed a decision to temporarily suspend imports of pharmaceutical drugs that have at least two locally produced alternatives. The decision excludes medicine for chronic conditions, vaccines, anesthetics, psychiatric drugs and infant formula and gives generic medicines priority for imports. A Health Ministry source told L’Orient Today that the decision is likely to be implemented next week.

Meanwhile, people aged 55 and older and those with special needs will be able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this weekend as part of the Health Ministry’s third vaccine “marathon.” The inoculation campaign will take place across the country from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m on both Saturday and Sunday. Anyone wishing to be vaccinated must register online beforehand, the Lebanese Vaccine Executive Committee said. At noon today, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan is set to open a “mega-vaccination center” at the City Mall shopping center near Dora, which will be run by the Lebanese Red Cross. 


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Lebanese depositors should be able to withdraw the equivalent of up to $800 from their bank accounts as early as the end of this month. The proposed repayment system, laid out in a circular issued by Banque du Liban yesterday, would allow depositors whose dollars have been locked away due to informal capital controls to take out $400...