The long-awaited BDL platform “Sayrafa 2.0” was officially launched last week and is aimed at allowing banks to buy & sell dollars and set up a unified rate that is not subject to any manipulation. Theoretically speaking, this sounds like a great plan but the reality is very different.
In fact, the platform will only allow banks to buy/sell dollars, and will be mainly restricted to importers of basic necessities. This mean that Lebanese citizens still have to go to the black market to get their dollars.
More importantly, the rate that will be set as well as the amount of dollars that BDL will inject into the market and the platform are still unclear, which means that we’re headed towards having a fourth currency rate in the Lebanese market, after the official peg rate 1500, the Lollar at LL3,900 and the black market rate currently at LL12,000.
Speaking of subsidies, I believe they will be stopped once the platform is fully functional as food importers will be setting their prices based on that fourth rate I mentioned above. Also, BDL hasn’t paid food importers in months and the subsidized-food imports in the market are becoming more scarce by the day.
To sum things up, the platform is everything but a transparent exchange platform and will force Lebanese to withdraw their lollars more frequently, which is what BDL and every Lebanese bank want. Less “lollars” in the banks means less reserves needed. BDL & Banks win, Politicians win, The average Lebanese loses 70-80% of his money.