Finance Minister Wazni Maybe Looking for an IMF Bailout for Lebanon's Woes

Published January 26th, 2020 - 08:40 GMT
Ministger of Finance Ghazi Wazni arrives for the inaugural cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda east of capital Beirut on January 22, 2020. AFP
Ministger of Finance Ghazi Wazni arrives for the inaugural cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda east of capital Beirut on January 22, 2020. AFP

Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni met with an International Monetary Fund official Saturday to discuss the critical economic situation in the country.

Wazni met with IMF Alternate Director Sami Geadah at the Finance Ministry, as pressure mounts for the new Cabinet, formed this week, to find the right solutions to the financial crisis and implement urgent reforms.

Geadah congratulated Wazni on the formation of a new government. Lebanon has not said whether it will seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

In December, then-caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with IMF and World Bank officials to discuss technical assistance in drawing up a rescue plan.


Under any possible IMF bailout plan, Lebanon would be required to agree to measures ranging from increasing taxes to fighting corruption. Among IMF recommendations to increase state revenues and slash budget deficit, Lebanon would be required to hike value-added tax, raise fuel excises and eliminate electricity subsidies, which are estimated at around $2 billion annually.

With the Lebanese pound having lost over 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar on the black market, speculation has risen that the IMF might require Lebanon to break its currency’s peg to the dollar. Lebanon’s new government came under international pressure Thursday to proceed with implementing key economic reforms as a condition for extending urgently needed financial assistance to the protest-hit country.

Wazni also met with a World Bank delegation Friday headed by regional director for the Middle East department, Saroj Kumar Jha.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

 


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