September 23, 2019 / 11:58 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Lebanese c. bank says dollars available, customer demand met

(Adds Salameh quotes)

BEIRUT, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh said on Monday that Lebanese banks were meeting customer demand for U.S. dollars which can still be withdrawn from ATMs in most banks.

“Dollars are available in Lebanon and the talk that we see in social media and sometimes in the media is exaggerated and has goals,” Salameh said in a televised news conference.

He said any measures taken at ATMs were down to the policy of each individual bank.

“But dollars are still available in the ATMs, perhaps not in all the banks, but in most of the banks,” Salameh said.

Customers unable to complete transactions at the ATMs of some banks could carry them out at the counter, he said.

Some businesses say they are being forced to go to money exchange houses to secure their hard currency needs and have been charged rates above the official peg of 1,507.5 Lebanese pounds to the dollar.

Fuel distributors last week went on strike because they say banks are not supplying the dollars they need to pay importers.

“It might be for logistical reasons that perhaps some money changers do not have dollars while others perhaps do,” Salameh said.

“But I have not seen anyone actually come and present a complaint to Banque du Liban ... about this matter,” he added.

“Banque du Liban has its reserves in dollars that exceed $38.5 billion and is present in the market and there is no need for any special measures especially because the fear mongering that is happening is more in the media than in the market.” (Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Toby Chopra and Ed Osmond)

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