Lebanese lira drops slightly as clock ticks for next Cabinet formation

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The Lebanese lira has dropped eight percent in value this week, as the clock ticks for Lebanon’s next Cabinet to be formed.

By the end of the week, local currency was being bought and sold on the black market for as much as 7,900 Lebanese lira, according to LebaneseLira.org, a website that tracks the value of the currency. On Monday, the currency was changing hands for around 7,300.

Slow progress in Cabinet formation talks and new US sanctions against Hezbollah have caused the value of the lira, still technically pegged to the US dollar at 1,507 to one, to decrease on the parallel market.

Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is scrambling to form a new cabinet of “specialists” before September 15, a deadline agreed between local politicians and French President Emmanuel Macron who visited Lebanon last week.

The main aim of the technocratic government will be to enact sweeping reforms, many of which are part of a year-long roadmap drawn up by Macron.

But Adib faces numerous challenges forming the next government, with recent tensions rising over US sanctions targeting former ministers Ali Hasan Khalil and Youssef Fenianos. In the past decade, cabinet formation has taken several months.

Meanwhile, the incumbent caretaker government is hamstrung and unable to approve important reforms and set an agenda for resuming bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

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