BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Lebanese government on Tuesday raised the price of a 900-gramme loaf of partially subsidised bread to 2,000 pounds from its pre-October-crisis price of 1,500 pounds in the first such price change in eight years.

Unusually long lines were seen outside bakeries in various parts of the country on Saturday as fears grow that bread will become scarce in Lebanon due to the high exchange rate of the US dollar. The Lebanese pound which was pegged against the dollar lost over 80% of its value

The pound, which is officially pegged at around 1,500 to the dollar, has lost over 80% of its value since October and is now trading at nearly 9,000 to the dollar on the black market after sharp falls in recent days. 

Since October Lebanon has been in a financial crisis that has seen businesses close and prices and unemployment soar. 

In Lebanon the middle class are becoming poor and the poor are sliding into destitution, as food prices are pushed beyond the means of most people because of the collapse of the local currency .

The crisis is seen as the worst threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war.

The heavily indebted country has maintained an official dollar peg of 1,507.5, but dollars at this level have been rationed exclusively for imports of fuel, medicine, and wheat. 

In recent days there have been long queues in bakeries as oven owners stopped selling their bread to shops, complaining that their production costs had spiralled due to the rapid depreciation in the value of the pound. 

Bakeries also threatened to stop bread distribution, saying they were losing money. 

Flat bread is a staple food for the majority of the population in the Middle East.

Ali Ibrahim, the head of the Lebanese Ovens Association, told Lebanese LBC TV broadcaster the decision should “have been taken a while ago.” 

The bread crisis sparked renewed anti-government protests on Saturday and Sunday as demonstrators blocked main highways across the country. 

Angry protesters again took to the streets on Tuesday in the heart of the capital Beirut, paralysing traffic in sporadic demonstrations over deteriorating living conditions. 


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