Outgoing Lebanon government approves economic recovery plan

May 19, 2022, 10:22 PM | Updated: May 20, 2022, 10:25 am
In this photo released by Lebanon's official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese preside...

In this photo released by Lebanon's official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese president Michel Aoun, center background, and Lebanese Prime minister Najib Mikati, left background, head a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 20, 2022. Lebanon's government approved an economic recovery plan during its last meeting Friday before becoming a caretaker Cabinet after a new parliament was elected over the weekend, the information minister said. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanon Government via AP)

(Dalati Nohra/Lebanon Government via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s outgoing government on Friday approved a recovery plan for pulling the Mideast nation out of its economic meltdown, the country’s information minister said.

The development came during the Cabinet’s last official meeting before it becomes a caretaker government following last weekend’s parliamentary elections.

The plan is a first step on a difficult and complicated road with the ultimate goal of wresting Lebanon out of the worst economic crisis in its modern history. The crisis, which erupted in October 2019, leading to nationwide protests, is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement.

However, Parliament still has to approve the plan, which includes restructuring the country’s hard-hit banking sector and amending decades-old banking secrecy laws.

The economic recovery plan is a key demand by the International Monetary Fund. Lebanon ‘s government singed last month a tentative agreement with the IMF for comprehensive economic policies that could eventually pave the way for some relief for the crisis-hit nation.

The IMF and the international community have been demanding that Lebanon implement wide-ranging economic and financial reforms in order to release loans and investments worth billions of dollars.

Information Minister Ziad Makary said Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government approved the plan, though there were some objections from ministers close to the Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group and its ally Amal, a faction led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Mikati told reporters that the plan aims to protect small depositors while ways of protecting large depositors will be negotiated with the IMF. He offered no figures but had in the past said that small depositors are those with $100,000 and less.

“The challenges that our country is facing demand a strong administration and cooperation between all sides,” Mikati said in an apparent message to the incoming Cabinet and newly elected lawmakers.

“Every day that passes will cost more if we don’t implement the economic recovery plan in full,” he added.

Lebanon defaulted in March 2020 on paying back its massive debt, worth at the time some $90 billion or 170% of the country’s GDP, making it one of the highest in the world.

The economic meltdown has plunged into poverty three-quarters of the population of 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees. The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value.

Mikati’s government on Friday also approved funding of $35 million a month to buy medicines for cancer patients and those with chronic diseases for the next four months. The Cabinet also approved a hike in telecommunication prices, starting in July.

Lebanese voters on Sunday elected a new parliament, with Hezbollah and its allies losing majority in the 128-member legislature.

The new parliament should convene in the coming weeks to elect a parliament speaker. President Michel Aoun is expected to call for consultations with the new legislators who will then name a new prime minister.

The process is not likely to be easy, with deep divisions in the legislature among the Hezbollah-led alliance, pro-Western groups and independents.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington urges those elected and the political leaders “to heed the Lebanese people’s call for change and to work seriously, and with urgency, to take the necessary actions to rescue the economy.”

The U.S. also urges for the swift formation of a new government, committed to undertaking the hard work required to restore the confidence of the Lebanese people and the international community, Price said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Dutch farmers block entrances to supermarket warehouses

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers angry at government plans to slash emissions used tractors and trucks Monday to blockade supermarket distribution centers, the latest actions in a summer of discontent in the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The Netherlands’ busiest aviation hub, Schiphol Airport, urged travelers to use public transport to get to its […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Iran TV: Sandstorm shuts offices, schools in Tehran, region

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Schools and government offices closed in Iran’s capital and several other cities in the country on Monday, after yet another sandstorm blanketed Tehran and the surrounding region. State-run TV warned of poor air quality and advised the elderly, those sick and children to take precautions. Banks and the Tehran Stock Exchange […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Canadian government: Tycoon in China due to stand trial

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese-born Canadian tycoon is being put on trial in China, Canada’s government said Monday, five years after he vanished from Hong Kong during an anti-corruption crackdown. Xiao Jianhua was due to stand trial Monday, a government statement said. It said Canadian diplomats were “monitoring this case closely” and provided unspecified services […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Data puts Turkey’s annual inflation at 78.6%, a 24-year high

ISTANBUL (AP) — Annual inflation in Turkey hit 78.62% in June, the highest rate since 1998, according to official data released Monday. The Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, released the monthly figures as Turkey is experiencing a deepening cost-of-living crisis. Consumer prices rose by 4.95% on a monthly basis, the institute reported. While many countries […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Russia tries to press its offensive into Ukraine’s east

POKROVSK, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces tried Monday to press their offensive deeper into eastern Ukraine after taking control of a key stronghold. The Ukrainian military confirmed that its forces had withdrawn from the city of Lysychansk, the last bulwark of Ukrainian resistance in the Luhansk province, one of the two regions that make up […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Outages disrupt services at Japan’s No. 2 telecoms carrier

TOKYO (AP) — Many users of Japan’s No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp. were still having trouble making calls Monday after a massive outage throughout the weekend that affected nearly 40 million people, disrupting deliveries, weather reports and other services across the country. The company said data transmission had largely been restored by Monday morning, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Outgoing Lebanon government approves economic recovery plan