INTRODUCTION: Banks operating in Lebanon formally reopened on Monday (17 January) after being closed for 10 months because of fighting in the country.
GV: Banking Street
CU EXTERIOR: various banks including Bank of America. (3 shots)
CU: security men walking along street with guns. (2 shots)
LV: security men walking past bank.
CU: Lebanese commercial bank and other bank signs with people entering bank. (3 shots)
SV INTERIOR: Bank staff at work in office and people at teller's counter. (3 shots)
CU: customers and teller counting large sums of bank notes. (2 shots)
SV: People leaving bank.
LV PAN: people and traffic along road.
It was not immediately known whether all the 74 banks were back in operation. But the government, headed by banker Elias Sarkis, is stressing the importance of reactivating banking, which was one of the three pillars of Lebanon's pre-war economy. The others were commerce and tourism, both of which came to a half at the height of the fighting. Commercial activity is slowly reviving, but tourism is still non-existent.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Banks operating in Lebanon formally reopened on Monday (17 January) after being closed for 10 months because of fighting in the country.
SYNOPSIS: The scene in Riad Solh -- once the Middle East's major banking street -- was quiet as the bank's opened their doors for the first day of business. It was not immediately known how many of the 74 accredited banks, 14 of them foreign, had reopened. Red-bereted riot police patrolled the street and were a grim reminder of the 19 months of civil war which shattered the Lebanese economy.
The banks were not crowded and the streets not jammed with traffic as they once were. But there was no doubt that there was plenty of money changing hands. But even so, bankers were reluctant to forecast whether Lebanon would regain its pre-war role as the financial heart of the Middle East. The decision to reopen followed assurances by the government owned Central Bank to provide liquidity necessary for the banks to conduct normal business. Banks suffered heavily from war damage and looting, losing at least 500 million dollars from pillaged vaults and safe deposit boxes. But the return of such major foreign banks as the City bank of New York, the first National City Bank of Chicago and Chase Manhattan of New York indicated foreign confidence that the war is over. Fighting in most of Lebanon stopped on the 15th of November when 30,000 mainly Syrian troops of the Arab League peace-keeping force moved into the main combat zones.