NNA - Prime Minister Hassan Diab chaired in the morning a financial and security meeting. Were present: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Zeina Akar, Minister of Interior and Municipalities Mohammad Fahmi, Minister of Justice Marie-Claude Najm, State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat, Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, Secretary General of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Judge Mahmoud Makie, General Director of the General Directorate of General Security Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, Director General of the Internal Security Forces Major-General Imad Othman, Director General of State Security Major General Tony Saliba, Secretary General of the Higher Defense Council Major-General Mahmoud Al-Asmar, Head of Association of Banks in Lebanon, Salim Sfeir, Director of the Lebanese Army Directorate of Intelligence Brig. Gen. Antoine Mansour, ISF Information Branch Chief Brig. Gen. Khaled Hammoud, Deputy Director General of State Security Brig. Gen. Samir Sanan, Head of Lebanese Security Information Unit, Brig. Gen. Mounah Sawaya, Money Changers Syndicate Head, Mahmoud Mrad, Mr. Mahmoud Halawi and PM's Advisor Khodor Taleb. The meeting was devoted to following up on the current security situation and controlling the US dollar exchange rate.
At the beginning of the meeting devoted to monitoring the dollar exchange rate, Prime Minister Hassan Diab took stock at the sabotage that took place in Tripoli and Beirut, labeling it as a disaster.
PM Diab believed that what happened is a blow to all the attributes of the State, stressing that he will definitely not accept this mayhem in the streets, the attack of private and public properties, and the attempt to disrupt the security stability and pose a threat to the country.
Diad said: "I urge all relevant services and the judiciary to arrest every person who participated in this crime, whether in Beirut or in Tripoli or in any other region".
He stressed that if these people are not arrested, there is no point in the existence of the entire State. PM Diab added: "Thugs have no other motive than vandalism, and they should be thrown in jail, period".
Afterwards, PM Diab addressed the issue of the dollar exchange rate's control, and said:
"The events that took place 10 days ago go beyond all reason. We gathered here, took measures and commitments, and indeed, people have reportedly sold more than 5.5 million dollars on the first day, and more than 4 million dollars on the second day, which means that up to 10 million dollars flowed into the market in just two days, and on the third day, dollars suddenly disappeared from the market, and the sales volume did not exceed 100,000 dollars.
Then, the dollar's loss almost totally continued, and the demand rose as if someone decided to return to price speculation.
There should be an investigation into this matter, and you are here with all relevant services. I assume that you have answers to what happened, because this was a recurrent issue, and as I said before, we will not remain silent in the face of any attempt to tamper with people's livelihoods.
The salaries of the employees and the military became worthless, and the prices are going up insane. Our responsibility is to protect people's salaries and livelihoods. So we should not act as if nothing has happened. We want a full, integrated, forensic and judicial investigation. It is not permissible to have a crime without having a criminal, unless what happened is considered as normal, and I am personally convinced, and I have specific data, that what happened was a deliberate act.
As for the measures we have agreed upon on Friday at the Council of Ministers, and which have already come into effect, we are supposed to follow up on this commitment, prevent any new attempt to manipulate the dollar's price and actually begin to gradually reduce the price.
The meeting discussed the mechanism approved by the Council of Ministers regarding the dollar's price reduction. According to the said mechanism, powers will be granted to relevant services charged with its implementation.
The interlocutors have also agreed on establishing an operations room at the General Directorate of General Security to follow up on the matter. Central Bank's Governor stressed on the commitment to inject dollars into the markets.
The interlocutors have asserted that authorized money changers will abide by the Syndicate's conditions and that the Central Bank will hand dollars over to them to prevent it from falling in the hands of speculators or being smuggled abroad. ----Grand Serail Press Office