Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said Friday that BDL has sold $828 million to finance fuel imports to Lebanon from its foreign currency reserves in the month of July alone, urging the authorities to crack down on the smuggling of fuel to the black market.
“I would like to be frank with the Lebanese with some facts so that they can be aware of it, especially in the face of those who exploit the financial, economic and social sectors with unspeakable greed,” Salameh said in a statement.
He added that BDL has placed the interest of the citizens above all interests and for this reason the bank allocated funds to support the import of fuel so it can reach the Lebanese.
“Therefore, despite the delicate economic and monetary conditions, and despite our insistence to abide by the Article 91 of the Code of Money and Credit, and despite the catastrophic results that were caused by the state’s failure to pay its external debts in 2020, BDL continued to finance the purchase of fuel oil,” the statement added.
Salameh added that BDL took all the necessary steps under these circumstances to caution on the ways to sell dollars to the importers and how to managed and distribute them, placing the interest of the citizen above all interest.
Salameh added that in the month of July 2021, Banque du Liban, for example, sold $293 million and previous approvals of $415 million, totaling 708 million to import gasoline and diesel in addition to $120 million to import fuel to Electricité du Liban, bringing the total bill to import fuel to $828 million.
He added that in spite of all BDL’s efforts to finance the import of fuel and diesel, the Lebanese still suffer from a shortage of diesel fuel, for example, to the point of losing it at the official subsidized price, and the emergence of a black market through which the Lebanese are blackmailed in their most basic rights, including electricity through generators.
He added that this catastrophic condition has dangerous consequences on hospitals and food security of the Lebanese due to the insistence of traders to hoard these commodities so they can sell them in the black market.
Salameh called on the authorities to crack down on the black market that sells the subsidized fuel oil and diesel way higher than the official rates.