Lebanon’s pound tumbled on Tuesday towards 10,000 to the dollar, a record low for a currency battered by a financial meltdown fuelling poverty and unrest.
The collapse, on a scale Lebanon has never seen, has slashed about 85% of the currency’s value in a country relying heavily on imports.
The cost of scarce dollars hit 10,000 Lebanese pounds on Tuesday, said three currency dealers on the informal market, a main source of cash since banks stopped dispensing dollars. Two other dealers said earlier the greenback had traded at 9,900.
That makes Lebanon’s minimum wage worth about $68 a month.
Dozens of protesters blocked roads with burning tyres in central Beirut, on the road to the airport and near the city of Baalbek. Others shut down a foreign exchange bureau in protest in the southern city of Sidon, local media said.
Political leaders have failed to agree a rescue plan since the crisis, rooted in decades of state graft, erupted in late 2019 as dollar inflows dried up.
At the time, protests gripped the country, fuelled by anger at economic hardship and new tax plans, including a daily 20-cent fee on Whatsapp calls.
Prices of many consumer goods such as diapers or cereal have nearly tripled since then. Jobs have evaporated as charities warn of rising hunger.
The currency last touched lows close to 10,000 in the summer of 2020, weeks before the huge August port blast that devastated much of Beirut.