The Monetary Board approved the opening of a Currency Exchange Facility (CEF) that will allow Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) returning from Lebanon to exchange Lebanese currency for Philippine pesos. At present, the Lebanese banknotes are not convertible to pesos.
The establishment of the said facility is in line with government efforts to assist OFWs who were displaced by the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
Under the CEF, each OFW returning from Lebanon will be allowed to exchange with the BSP or with authorized agent banks (AABs), up to a maximum of 300,000 Lebanese Livres (or the equivalent of around just under US$200 or P10,000.00). OFWs shall present documentary proof of their travel from Lebanon such as passport or valid travel papers (issued and signed by the Philippine Embassy, stamped with the date of the OFW’s arrival in the Philippines).
OFWs have seven banking days from date of their arrival or from the date of the issuance of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Memorandum to All Agent Banks on the implementation of the CEF to convert their Lebanese banknotes with the BSP’s Cash Department in Manila, and/or its Regional Offices/Branches as well as with authorized agent banks (AABs). The exact date of implementation of this issuance will be announced shortly.
The BSP shall set the exchange rate at which it will buy Lebanese Livres from OFWs and AABs that purchased said currencies under the CEF. The rate shall be posted daily in the BSP Reference Exchange Rate Bulletin. AABs, particularly those with branch offices at the airports, may extend banking hours, as needed, to service currency conversion requirements of returning OFWs.
The CEF was established during similar emergency situations in the Middle East. The first such facility was in the 1990s during the Kuwait-Iraq war and the second in 2003 in connection with the US-Iraq conflict. Access to the CEF was exclusive to returning OFWs who were given a limited period within which to exchange the acceptable currencies for pesos and for a limited amount.