The Lebanese pound ended unchanged in interbank trading from the week before, at LP1,513.75-14.25, despite having actually witnessed some demand for the first time in several weeks. Volume ranged between $40 million-$50 million.
Behind this limited demand was the increasing speculation of Rafik Hariri’s return as Prime Minister following the first stage of the elections. Such an eventuality is seen in some quarters as marking the beginning of economic reform. Considering that much needed reform measures were as studiously avoided by the previous government as by the present one, such hopes may be exaggerated.
The market will, of course, be looking for any new government to clearly signal its intentions on a number of issues such as privatization, cellular licenses, VAT and administrative reform. A return to the troika system of government would not be seen as helpful to progress on these issues. — ( Banque du Liban et d'Outre-Mer Sal )
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )