As Lebanon’s complex economic crisis deepens, inflation indicators still paint a bleak picture of the fate of the country, which has not yet reached a final agreement with the International Monetary Fund that could save it.
The latest indicators showed inflation figures reaching 251.5 percent in July on an annual basis, as the term of Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh ended without appointing a successor, in light of the continuing political impasse over the election of a president.
Inflation continues on its wild upward trajectory as the country’s currency has seen its purchasing value fall dramatically since it lost 90 percent of its value in February.
The increase in the cost of living has led to higher costs of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, as well as higher prices for food, non-alcoholic beverages and transportation, the Central Statistics Consumer Price Index showed.
Food prices, which account for 20 percent of the consumer price index, rose by 279 percent, while housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels – weighing 28 percent – rose by 234 percent.
Health costs, which account for about 8 percent of the index, rose 257 percent. Transport costs, which weigh 13 percent, jumped 222 percent.
The consumer price index rose by about 6.8 percent from June 2023 as a result of the increase in medical and hospital services.
Cumulative inflation since September 2019, on the eve of the start of the crisis to date, has reached about 4,900 percent.
Inflation in Lebanon was beginning to decline after reaching 171 percent last year, the highest rate in nearly four decades, and 155 percent in 2021.
But it has rebounded this year as the central bank devalued the Lebanese pound in February.
The official exchange rate has increased to 15,000 pounds to the dollar, compared to the peg in place since 1997 at 1,507.50 to the dollar.
Mansouri to Saudi Arabia
Meanwhile, it was reported that the acting governor of the Banque du Liban, Wassim Mansouri, will visit Saudi Arabia in September, as banking sources in Beirut believe that the timing of the visit reflects Saudi interest in the Lebanese file, especially at this stage, when the Group of Five concerned with the Lebanon is working to produce a political solution that leads to the election of a president of the republic and the formation of a government that implements reforms and a financial and economic recovery program to lead the country towards recovery and progress.
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