Paper Money

Lebanon has six new satirical self-printable ‘lollar’ notes

Lebanon has a new currency — not one that you can legally spend, but an ersatz one that nonetheless can be withdrawn from custom-made ATMs located across Beirut or printed directly via a website.

The six new bank notes, created by Leo Burnett, part of Publicis Groupe Middle East and a group known as The Lebanese Transparency Association – No Corruption, are satirical. They are called “lollars,” and they range in value from 1 to 100 as does the similarly named U.S. paper currency.

Each lollar bill represents a corruption crisis that has impacted Lebanese citizens over the past three years in areas of transportation, environment, electricity, port and fire management. Lollar is a term created in 2019 by financial expert Dan Azzi to characterize the worthlessness of Lebanese dollars. The pretend money is meant to raise awareness of the fact that the millions of U.S. dollars deposited in Lebanese banks can now be withdrawn only in local currency, and thus are as worthless as lollars, the Currency of Corruption.

The designs feature scenes connected to corruption in Lebanon.

The train station on the 1-lollar note was founded in 1911 in Tripoli and was managed by the French mandate until returned to the Lebanese government after independence in 1943. It was officially declared nonoperational in 1989, but the Lebanese government still allocates a budget of millions to cover its expenses.

The 5-lollar note is devoted to the fuel cartels and their effect on Lebanon’s economy when the government lifted subsidies on fuel and the central bank stopped allowing credits. This forced importing companies to ration fuel distribution, which led gas stations to exponentially raise prices.

The 10-lollar denomination is devoted to garbage. In 1994, the government made deals with private companies to handle issues regarding garbage landfills in the sea. The dumps were successful only in draining the government’s budget, with no solution to the garbage crisis.

The 20-lollar note is a tribute to the failure of civil services, reflected particularly in the more than 100 disastrous fires each year. They are attributed to negligence and unpreparedness, even though, for instance, $14 million was spent in the year of 2009 on firefighting equipment in case of emergencies. It has been necessary for Jordan, Cyprus, and Greece to step in to help the Lebanese army put out fires.

Lebanon’s energy management sector was created in 1909 under Turkish rule. The 50-lollar note highlights how energy factories have closed due to the scarcity of dollars and corruption. Residents are being victimized by generator cartels and fuel of suspicious quality. Even so, public debt from this sector is nearly $43 million dollars with almost no relief in sight.

The 100-lollar denomination is an homage to inept port management. In 2013, a “time bomb” of sorts arrived in Beirut on a Russian ship carrying ammonium nitrate. It was stored there until it exploded in August 2020, killing 218, injuring 7,000, creating 300,000 homeless, and leaving billions of dollars worth of damage. A byproduct was the revelation of massive corruption in the form of negligence, deals, and bribes.

All six Currency of Corruption notes can be printed free from the Currency of Corruption website.

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