Lebanon could reach a preliminary agreement for financial support with the International Monetary Fund in January or February, according to local press reports citing the country’s deputy prime minister.
Saadeh Al Shami was quoted by broadcaster Al Jadeed on Sunday as saying that a ministerial committee agreed with the governor of Lebanon’s central bank that losses in the ailing country’s financial sector amounted to $ 69 billion.
The IMF needs to assess that calculation, but agreeing on the figure would be a crucial first step for the Lebanese government as it seeks to negotiate a support package.
The fund said preparatory technical discussions with Lebanese authorities were underway. These should lay the foundations for a program supported by the IMF.
Lebanon is going through an unprecedented financial crisis, and a deal with the IMF is widely seen as the only way it can get help.
On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the international community had not done enough to support Lebanon, which is grappling with a severe economic crisis and is home to more than one million Syrian refugees.
Mr Guterres called for more support at the start of a high-profile three-day visit to the country, during which he met with President Michel Aoun.
Mr. Guterres said his visit will focus on supporting the Lebanese people, but he urged the country’s political leaders to overcome their differences to find ways to resolve the crisis.
International donors, including traditional Lebanon supporters, have extended humanitarian aid to the country, but have refused to back the government until a reform plan is agreed.
The Lebanese people are facing a worsening economic crisis that began in late 2019 and is rooted in years of mismanagement and corruption.
The crisis, including the collapse of the national currency and deepening poverty, was made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic, feuds between rival political groups and a massive explosion in the port of Beirut in August of l last year that left at least 216 dead and thousands injured. He also destroyed large parts of the capital.
“I think the international community has not done enough to support Lebanon… and other countries around the world that have opened their borders, doors and hearts to refugees when, unfortunately, some much richer and many more powerful are closing their borders, ”Guterres said. said while speaking next to Mr. Aoun.
He said a 12-month UN emergency response plan unveiled in August – which calls for $ 383 million to support 1.1 million people – is only 11% funded up to 11%. now.
Updated: December 20, 2021, 04:28