Since the beginning of widespread protests in Lebanon last week, banks and lending institutions have remained closed, fueling fears of an impending nationwide cash crisis. Attempts to assuage the concerns of suffering individuals without money or options are not proving effective, as officials scramble to address the situation against a backdrop of alleged political embezzlement and mounting public frustration.
We Don’t Have Your Money
As banks don’t actually store customer deposits, Lebanese lenders and business officials are afraid that a sudden re-opening after being closed to the public for over a week could have disastrous consequences. “The cash of the banks are in reserve at the Central Bank or are in Treasury bills,” the president of the Worldwide Association of Lebanese Businesspeople told U.S. media. “The cash of the banks are not in the bank deposits, so no, they don’t have enough cash for everyone that would come and ask for any cash of transfer.”
An official statement from the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) confirmed fears that banks will remain closed, stating: “In light of the continuing volatile security situation and the closure of most roads, and for the safety of customers and sector’s employees and its properties, banks will remain closed on Friday, October 25, 2019.” The chairman of the association, Salim Sfeir, maintained that banks would reopen when protests calm down, stating:
Once normalcy is restored, we are very confident that we can resume servicing our customers in full capacity.
Failed Attempts to Calm Protestors
The attempt at reassurance is of little comfort to many Lebanese, who want their banks to open,