IMF calls again for speedy
comprehensive reform plan
Wazni: An IMF plan should
exclude tax increases and privatization
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Lebanon should move quickly to implement reforms to stabilize the country’s economy.
“Given the severity of economic conditions in Lebanon, it’s important that the government designs and implements promptly a comprehensive package of reforms to effectively address the economic challenges and improve Lebanon’s economic prospects,” said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice. He said that the IMF is waiting to see the government plans on how to tackle the economic challenges it faces.
“We stand ready to assist the authorities in those efforts,” he said. No aid request has been made. Ghazi Wazni, the Minister of Finance, said the IMF was ready to send experts back to Lebanon once we have our plan ready.
Wazni said that the government’s plan to tackle a financial and economic crisis will meet IMF recommendations and will be ready in a few weeks, and will include a proposal it has reached with the World Bank.
He said that any recourse to an IMF program must be politically agreed to and that its terms should not cause suffering. “Lebanon welcomes all international financial assistance without exceptions. “Resorting to the IMF depends on several matters. The understanding with the IMF – if Lebanon resorts to it – should not negatively affect the political situation in Lebanon,” Wazni said. The terms should also not affect “the social situation and livelihoods” and there should be “political understanding” on any program, he said. The Fund should not impose “traditional conditions” such as tax increases or privatization.
Wazni said the government plan would also be presented to bondholders with whom preliminary contacts had started via its financial adviser, US investment bank Lazard. “When you want to communicate on restructuring public debt, you have to present the creditors a convincing, credible, comprehensive program,” he said. “If the negotiations reach an orderly path, and there is agreement with creditors, then we can avoid lawsuits,” he said.
Date Posted: Mar 13, 2020