June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Banks in the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata in western Libya opened today for the first time since the February uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s four-decade rule began.
“It’s a good day,” said Hussein Al Jamal, 47, as he waited for his wife to make a withdrawal at the Alwaha Bank in central Misrata. “We need the banks to start the economy. With our banks working, everything will be possible.”
The re-opening was organized by the city council, which limited cash withdrawals to 300 dinars, worth about $150 on the local black market, amid concern that larger withdrawals could trigger inflation in a city still surrounded by pro-Gaddafi forces. Many teachers, doctors and other state workers have not been paid their salaries since January.
Long lines formed at daybreak outside banks across the city, with police supervising those waiting for withdrawals. “This is the start I hope,” said Al Jamal. “Misrata people are great traders, we are famous for this.”
--Editors: Digby Lidstone, Shanthy Nambiar.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Stephen in Misrata, Libya, via the Cairo newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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