Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the government was exerting 'great efforts to try to alleviate the crisis', and promised to increase handouts to the most needy.
Clashes broke out between protesters and the Lebanese army Wednesday, hours after the under-fire central bank chief blamed a lack of government reforms for a spiralling economic crisis that has sparked demonstrations despite a coronavirus lockdown.
Central bank governor Riad Salameh was speaking after two nights of street clashes left one man dead and wounded dozens of protesters and troops, with rioters torching bank branches and smashing ATM machines.
Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic turmoil since the 1975-1990 civil war, now compounded by a lockdown to halt the stem of the novel coronavirus.
A plummeting currency and fast-rising prices have reignited protests that saw one man killed in Tripoli after being struck by a bullet fired by a soldier in clashes late Monday.
Dozens of protesters gathered again Wednesday evening in the northern city.
In the Mina district, some set alight rubbish bins and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the army, who responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.
In the southern port city of Sidon, local media reported that demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at the central bank branch in the city.
Responding to the mounting anger earlier Wednesday, Salameh in a rare televised address defended the central bank, saying "we funded part of the state's needs", as have international donors.
"We did all this because the state had promised reforms, which were not translated into reality for political reasons," he said, alluding to lengthy stretches in recent years when Lebanon lacked a functioning government, president or even parliament.
"I don't know if there was real will for the reforms, but the central bank has always asked for them."
Debt-burdened Lebanon has been rocked by a series of political crises in recent years, before an economic crunch helped set off unprecedented cross-sectarian mass protests in October and unseated the last government.
The demonstrations had largely petered out after a new cabinet was tasked earlier this year with implementing urgent reforms to unlock billions in international aid.
Then the small Mediterranean country largely closed down to tackle the virus that has infected 721 people and killed 24.
But in recent days, and in defiance of the ongoing lockdown, the demonstrators have hit the streets again, railing against a sharp devaluation and stinging price hikes.
On Wednesday, a few hundred people gathered to protest in the impoverished city of Tripoli.
"I'm out in the street because I'm unemployed and I can no longer feed my three children," 34-year-old Muhammad Khalil said.
"We've lost all our spending power and the state hasn't got our back," he told AFP.
The exchange rate, long pegged at 1,507 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, has soared to more than 4,000 pounds in recent days.
Prices have risen by 55 percent, while 45 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to government estimates.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Wednesday said the government was exerting "great efforts to try to alleviate the crisis", and promised to increase handouts to the most needy.
Human Rights Watch criticised the army's use of force in Tripoli on Monday night.
"The army's unjustified use of lethal force has further enflamed the situation and cost the life of one young man who was demanding his rights," HRW Lebanon researcher Aya Majzoub said.
Mobs have in recent nights targeted banks, which demonstrators view as sharing blame in the crisis and accuse of holding their savings hostage.
Banks have gradually restricted dollar withdrawals, halting them altogether last month, and transfers abroad have been banned.
Salameh in his speech said he wanted to reassure the Lebanese that "their deposits are still there and being used in the banking sector".
He claimed the central bank still held almost $20.9 billion in liquidity it could use.
The central bank governor spoke after Diab on Friday criticised the bank's performance and said an international firm had been tasked with auditing its books.
The premier also said bank deposits had plunged by $5.7 billion in January and February, in the latest apparent report of capital flight despite capital controls.
But Salameh on Wednesday said no such sum had left the country.
The finance ministry has been tasked with requesting that the central bank disclose total amounts transferred abroad since the start of 2019, including "amounts transferred by individuals dealing with public affairs".
Lebanon is one of the most indebted countries in the world, with debt equivalent to 170 percent of its GDP, and went into default for the first time in March.