BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun met Wednesday with Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, two days after Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil requested the renewal of the term of Banque du Liban chief.
The meeting came ahead of Cabinet session chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hariri had said Monday following a meeting with Aoun on Monday that the issue of Salameh’s term renewal “will be decided soon.”
A government source had told Annahar Monday that the Cabinet will likely approve the renewal of Salameh’s term in the near future amid increasing concerns over monetary stability in Lebanon.
Monetary concerns have been exacerbated amid reports that the US congress is preparing to amend the Hezbollah Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA) of 2015. The amendments expand the list of entities that may face sanctions for providing support for Hezbollah and significantly bolsters reporting on the financial activities of the party’s affiliated entities and even political allies.
Salameh, who assumed the post since 1993, is widely seen as a guarantor of monetary stability and has been credited with stabilizing the Lebanese pound and boosting the central bank’s foreign reserves.
The central bank governor, who had spearheaded efforts to contain the repercussions of HIFPA 2015, said Monday Lebanon will hold discussions with US officials to soften the proposed expanded sanctions.
"We need to get in contact at the level of the country as a whole because the amendments are englobing more targets which can be a problem and difficulties in Lebanon and for our banking sector," Salameh said in an interview on CNBC.
"The Lebanese government is going to put up a strategy to be able to communicate with the U.S. and try to explain the sensitivity of such a law," he added. "We hope that this bill, its amendment can be softened."
Lebanese parliamentary and banking delegations will be heading to Washington this week to discuss the new sanctions bill with U.S. officials.
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