June 12, 2020 / 12:44 PM / a month ago

Lebanon taking steps to strengthen collapsing pound - speaker

BEIRUT, June 12 (Reuters) - Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri said the government was working on steps on Friday to strengthen the country’s collapsing pound currency, with an aim of reducing its price against the dollar to 3,000-3,200 pounds.

Berri did not specify what steps would be taken but said their effects would not be seen before Monday.

The pound has seen its value fall quickly in recent days, slipping to about 5,000 to the dollar on Thursday from about 4,100 a week earlier, sparking protests across the country.

The pound has lost some 70% of its value since October, when protests first erupted and the country plunged into a financial crisis that has seen dollars dry up and the economy grind to a halt.

Lebanon’s central bank has tried to rein in the currency’s collapse, agreeing last week with money changers to set a unified daily price that would be gradually reduced to 3,200 pounds, but importers have said dollars at this reduced price are unavailable.

The heavily indebted country has maintained an official dollar peg of 1,507.5, but dollars at this level have been rationed exclusively for imports of fuel, medicine, and wheat. (Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Alison Williams)

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