Salameh says a real estate price increase in the near term is unlikely. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi
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Lebanon's Central Bank has the foreign-currency reserves it needs to keep the pound stable against the U.S. dollar at its pegged rate for the foreseeable future, the Central Bank governor said Tuesday. Riad Salameh also told Reuters in an interview that since June the Central Bank has been engaged in three financial operations intended to maintain high levels of dollar assets and to help banks run their credit portfolios in a less risky way.To increase reserves, maintain the U.S. dollar peg and raise banks' capital reserves, the Central Bank last year undertook what the International Monetary Fund termed "unconventional" financial engineering, raising dollar reserves to a then-record high of $41 billion.Salameh said the Central Bank estimates a "modest" growth rate of 2.5 percent for 2017 .Directed by Salameh since 1993, the Central Bank has often been described as one of the few pillars of stability in Lebanon.The Central Bank would continue to play that role, he said.If Lebanon manages to start bringing its deficit down, the Central Bank would not have to carry out its "unconventional operations," Salameh said.
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