On May 20, 2021, the Lebanese Central Bank launched the official Lira exchange platform SAYRAFA app.
After waiting for many months, the BDL brought the platform to light, but there is always a catch as usual.
The exchange platform’s rate is 12,000 LBP to 1 USD!
Let’s pause for a second and think. Why was every single one of us expecting the rate to be 10,000 LBP to the Dollar?
The answer is obvious. Riad Salameh and other political higher-ups were preaching for several months on every news outlet in Lebanon that upon the platform’s launch the rate will be 1$ = 10,000 LBP.
So, to make a long story short, the governor was deceiving—the plain and simple truth.
Check out the official statement here:
Who Can Benefit From SAYRAFA Platform?
1- Employers Of Foreign Domestic Workers:
First and Foremost (pun intended), employers of foreign domestic workers. In other words, the rich who can afford a “Filipiniye”!
Why does the central bank feel obliged to cover the needs of the “Filipiniye” complex class? For how long is this mockery of Riad Salameh going to last?
Is Riad Salameh aware that 60% of the Lebanese people are unemployed? How many of them are women that can work as “domestic workers”?
Picture this. A domestic worker-employer pays his “san3a” $350 per month. Before the platform launch, he was forced to get his Dollars from the black market. So, he was paying more than 12,000 LBP to the Dollar.
Thanks to Riad Salameh and our bright politicians, he can subscribe to the platform and get a guaranteed rate of 12,000 LBP to the Dollar.
Instead of incentivizing those employers to hire Lebanese workers and creating a minimum of 60,000 new jobs, the central bank wants the foreigners to get the Dollars! Brilliant.
2- Importers Of Basic Goods:
Importers of essential goods such as food-related products will be able to use the platform.
They have to provide official company registration documents, identification documents, past import invoices, and a new invoice for the required amount.
This is a perfectly logical decision. The importers will be freed from the abuse of the Lira black market mafia. They will be able to buy USDs using a guaranteed rate.
Will The Platform Improve The Lira Rate?
To make a long story short, No.
Just after the announcement, the black market applications reduced the USD price by 125 to 175 points within an hour, only to start increasing the rate again 2 hours later.
In simple terms, as long as the platform does not include everyone in its system, the rate will never go down to 12,000 LBP.
The population demand for the greenback is extreme and will not diminish anytime soon.
Nothing will change until the central bank puts the masses at ease and gives them official access to the exchange platform.
So, now the applications will continue to abuse the market by artificially depreciating the Lira.
The Black Market Apps Power:
After the BDL’s genius announcement, the USD to Lira applications are on the road to become more powerful than ever before.
Excluding employers of domestic workers and essential goods importers, everyone else will still rely on the apps.
On 20/5/2021, the parallel market apps were indirectly officialized by the Central bank. Period.
Intentional or not, the platform is a disaster because it only serves a minimal number of people.
As long as retailers, small businesses, and residents are left out. The currency will never be regulated and controlled by the BDL.
What Can We Do To Fight Back:
Boycott the applications once and for all.
Think about it for a second. Every time they force you to watch an ad, they are making fresh dollars.
Every notification they send is very well planned and set in advance.
Do not fall under the illusion that there are a dozen apps and that the rates are coming from a simple supply-demand basis.
Most of these apps are run and operated by exchangers themselves.
After 8 months of daily observation, we noticed two groups of apps, having 3 to 4 apps each that send price updates at the exact same second.
Try it out yourself. Download 8 or 9 applications randomly. Just search the Google app store and download the first 9 that come up.
In conclusion, the apps dictate the market price, and they are doing it illegally and without any supervision from an official governing body.
Tough Times Ahead
What can you expect when our political elite devises solutions to keep foreign domestic workers here and paid in cash dollars?
How can the rate go down or at least be stable if only a select few have access to an official rate?
The new SAYRAFA lira exchange platform is a disaster, another blunder from the BDL.
No matter the schemes they create, the crisis will continue and will worsen. Until our political and financial elite are put in check and prosecuted, we will always face mediocrities on all levels.
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