- Title: Becoming "like Greece": Lebanese distressed amid financial meltdown
- Date: 9th March 2020
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (MARCH 9, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CURRENCY EXCHANGE SHOP OWNER, HAJJ HALABI, SAYING: "This is 30 million (Lebanese pounds), they were worth $20,000 (US). Now they have lost exactly 10 million Lebanese pounds (of their original value). This is really sad. We feel sorry for how weak our local currency has become.'' MONEY COUNTER SHOWING CURRENCY'S VALUE AND LEBANESE FLAG ON SCREEN VARIOUS OF HALABI COUNTING LEBANESE NOTES (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CURRENCY EXCHANGE SHOP OWNER, HAJJ HALABI, SAYING: "We have been in this business 40 years buying and selling as normal, buying and selling with our clients as normal. Now there is no work, neither buying nor selling." BUNDLE OF LEBANESE POUNDS HANDWRITTEN NOTE READING (Arabic): "NO EMBARRASMENT, PRICE OF US DOLLAR IS 1969.50 ACCORDING TO LEBANESE CENTRAL BANK" (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CURRENCY EXCHANGE SHOP OWNER, HAJJ HALABI, SAYING: "During the war, there were people buying and selling, there was money, now there is no money. Everything was available at supermarkets and it was normal. Now there is nothing." VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF CURRENCY EXCHANGE SHOP VARIOUS OF BUNDLES OF LEBANESE POUNDS OLD LEBANESE CURRENCY READING (Arabic): "CENTRAL BANK" (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) JEWELLERY SHOP OWNER, MOHAMMED BADER, SAYING: "There is no work, we removed all our stuff from the shop. There was gold on the display but no outcome, neither buying nor selling. The Lebanese are facing a big problem. The country is collapsing, we are going to become like Greece." VARIOUS OF BEIRUT STREETS VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF SGBL BANK / SIGN READING (French): "SOCIETE GENERALE DE BANQUE AU LIBAN" VARIOUS OF MAN SITTING ON THE STREET VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF BANK / SIGN READING (Arabic): "BLOM BANK" EXTERIOR OF BANK / SIGN READING (Arabic/English): "BANK OF BEIRUT" VARIOUS OF CARS DRIVING IN BEIRUT STREETS VARIOUS OF MAN SITTING ON THE STREET EXTERIOR OF BANK / SIGN READING (Arabic/French): "CREDIT LIBANAIS" (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE ACTOR AND ANTI-GOVERNMENT ACTIVIST, ABED AWJI, SAYING (STANDING IN FRONT OF CONCRETE WALL ERECTED DURING THE PROTESTS PROTECTING GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS AND PRIME MINISTER'S RESIDENCE): "Although there are not many people taking to the streets, this wall beind me still exists and is protecting the government from the people. Why? Because the government know that they are in a deep crisis, they have been broke for a long time and did not say anything, they wanted the people to pay the price of this crisis, but the revolution came and accelerated things, so now they are forced to come out, justify and find solutions to hide, otherwise we would have woken up this morning to find out they paid for Eurobonds with people's money and people no longer have money at the banks and the banks are closed." VARIOUS OF LEBANESE FLAG ATOP GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS BUILDING GRAFFITI ON WALL AT RIAD EL SOLH SQUARE BARBED WIRE
- Embargoed: 23rd March 2020 15:51
- Keywords: Lebanon Lebanon crisis financial crisis liquidity crisis public debt
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Budget/Taxation/Revenue,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001C4C07YF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Business owners in the Lebanese capital Beirut fretted about their livelihoods on Monday, watching their local currency steadily lose its value and demand for products dwindle as the country's economic crisis takes a turn for the worst.
Facing a huge public debt burden and an acute liquidity crisis, the Lebanese state on Tuesday appointed international investment and law firms as its financial and legal advisers on a widely expected restructuring of its sovereign debt.
One of the world's most heavily indebted states, Lebanon must urgently decide how to handle forthcoming maturities of sovereign debt including a $1.2 billion Eurobond due on Monday.
Lebanon is waiting for bondholders to decide whether they will cooperate in a debt restructuring or pursue legal action against the country following its move to suspend a foreign currency debt repayment, the economy minister told Reuters on Monday.
Lebanon's pound has lost around 40% of its value on a parallel market since October, though the official peg remains at 1,507.5 pounds to the U.S. dollar.
That leaves the country on course for a sovereign default as it grapples with a financial crisis that is seen as the biggest threat to its stability since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.
(Production: Issam Abdallah, Ayat Basmah, Barbara Woolsey)
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