01/10/2020, 09.11
LEBANON
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Maronite bishops against banks' tightening on account holders and control of capital

by Fady Noun

The prelates condemn the "unrestricted" policy adopted by banks. An appeal to put an end to "undue expropriation" of workers and private companies. Criticism also for assaults on banks. On a political level, a renewed appeal for the immediate formation of a strong and independent executive. Courtesy of L’Orient-Le Jour.

Beirut (AsiaNews / LOJ) - Maronite bishops have condemned the unrestricted and unofficial policy of capital control currently being pursued by the Banking Association, without any intervention by the public, financial or political authorities to aid current account holders. The stance emerged in recent days, during the monthly meeting of the prelates gathered in the patriarchal see in Bkerké, under the presidency of the patriarch Beshara Raï.

In a final statement from there recent assembly, the prelates launched an appeal to those responsible "to put an end to the undue expropriation of the rights of account holders in the management of their savings". Be it "wages that allow people to live in a dignified way, or transactions that allow private companies to pursue their import-export operations, especially in vital sectors" for the economy .

The bishops called on the authorities not to leave account holders at the mercy of the banks and to put in place "a comprehensive financial policy capable of putting an end to the humiliation of the Lebanese in the face of banking institutions". At the same time, they condemned the recent attacks [by demonstrators] on some banks and credit institutions.

For several weeks, the prelates recalled, Lebanese banks have imposed restrictive measures, in particular by limiting withdrawals and the circulation of the US dollar to counter the important liquidity crisis that is through the country. Some account holders have reacted very strongly to these restrictions, going as far as to actually attacking the banks.

Get things dragged

On a political level, the Assembly asked leaders "to stop procrastinating with government maneuvers and palace games" preventing the formation of a government and to "facilitate" the task of the interim prime minister, Hassan Diab.

The Assembly of Bishops also wanted to condemn "attempts to ignore and evade" the demands emerging from protests since October 17, and "the Lebanese will" to see "a government of independent figures formed by people of experience and integrity ". An executive capable of freeing "a Lebanon bloodied by a policy dominated by private interests and by the appropriation of its freedom to decide under the influence of external factors".

In addition, the Maronite bishops expressed their "concern" about the escalation of violence in the region, while tension has risen between Iran and the United States following the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on 3 January. They addressed the international community inviting it to "put in place all possible efforts" to prevent the situation from escalating and encouraging the various parties to dialogue. Added to this is the appeal to the local political community to "commit to preserving internal harmony".

Finally, the prelates recalled the vocation of Lebanon, recently praised by Pope Francis himself as a "nation of harmonious coexistence", and invited the Lebanese to "rediscover their vocation as apostles of freedom, of shared coexistence for all".

"Freedom - the bishops conclude - has always been, through the centuries, at the heart of the existence of this small homeland, inside a Mashrek [the whole of the Arab countries east of Cairo] that increasingly deviates from it towards choices which are harmful to humans ".

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