BEIRUT — The Lebanese state "will not be able to pay back the money borrowed" from Banque du Liban (BDL), caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami said Tuesday, a day after caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati introduced a draft law that would allow the government to borrow foreign currency from the central bank.
The law was requested by Wassim Mansouri, the BDL's first deputy governor, who has been standing in as head of the central bank since Riad Salameh's term came to an end on Monday.
"The budget is in a delicate situation, and the amount required represents a significant proportion of the annual revenue forecast in the budget," which is estimated at $1.61 billion for the current year, Chami said Tuesday. He added that current economic conditions and the situation in sectors such as education and health "make it difficult for the state to pay back the loan" to BDL.
During his first press conference on Monday as acting governor of BDL, Mansouri asserted that the central bank "must stop financing the state without a legal framework."
Chami also said he was "in total agreement with the BDL deputy governors on the need to get rid of the Sayrafa platform and replace it with a transparent electronic platform, in order to unify the exchange rate."
Launched in 2020, the Sayrafa exchange rate platform was meant to regulate the lira value.
The official exchange rate now stands at LL15,000 to the dollar, the actual rate on the market is today closer to LL90,000.
Finally, Chami called Tuesday on BDL management to "distance itself from the political class" and urged Parliament to legislate and "take the necessary measures," such as unifying the exchange rate.
The measures requested "have not been in the interest of the government, Parliament or BDL, and everyone is suddenly realizing that they are necessary today. Better late than never," he said.