Lebanon aims to adopt long-delayed IMF reforms in October

Sep 19, 2022, 6:40 PM | Updated: Sep 20, 2022, 6:57 am
Lebanese caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade Amin Salam, second left, meets with a delegation f...

Lebanese caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade Amin Salam, second left, meets with a delegation from the International Monetary Fund in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Salam said crisis-hit Lebanon hopes to adopt key reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund for a bailout including banking restructuring and banking secrecy laws before the end of next month if there is "political will." (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT (AP) — Crisis-hit Lebanon hopes to adopt key reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund for a long-delayed but urgently needed bailout before the end of next month if there is “political will”, Lebanon’s caretaker economy minister said Tuesday.

Amin Salam spoke to The Associated Press after meeting with an IMF delegation that has been visiting Lebanese officials since Monday. The reforms would include restructuring the country’s banking system and banking secrecy laws.

The small Mediterranean nation has been in the grips of a three-year severe economic crisis that has left three quarters of its population in poverty after the Lebanese pound lost more than 90% of its value.

Talks between Lebanon’s government and the IMF began in May 2020 and reached a staff-level agreement earlier this year in April.

The Lebanese government has implemented few of the IMF’s demands from the agreement, which lists five “key pillars” that should be implemented, before finalizing a bailout program. These include restructuring Lebanon’s ailing financial sector, implementing fiscal reforms, the proposed restructuring of external public debt, and putting in place strong anti-corruption and anti-money laundering measures.

“The IMF is still very committed to help the Lebanese government move forward with the prior actions agenda,” Salam said adding that since the staff level agreement was reached, Lebanon has held parliamentary elections while work is ongoing to form a new Cabinet and President Michel Aoun’s six-year term ends on Oct. 31.

Since the economic meltdown began with nationwide protests in October 2019 against the ruling class that has run the country since the end of the 1975-90 civil war, little has been done to help Lebanon out of its worst economic crisis in its modern history. The political class, blamed for the decades of corruption and mismanagement that led to the crisis, has been resisting reforms demanded by the international community.

Lebanon’s GDP has sharply dropped over the past few years from about $55 billion in 2018 to $20.5 billion in 2021. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs since 2019 as the crisis was made worse by coronavirus and a massive blast at Beirut’s port in August 2020, that killed over 200, wounded thousands and caused damage worth billions of dollars. Daily life has become a struggle with rampant power cuts and some of the worst food inflation rates worldwide.

“We are hoping October will be the magical month,” Salam said. He added that planned actions include a capital controls law, banking secrecy law, banking restructuring law and passing the 2022 state budget.

Salam said the four draft laws have been extensively studied and reviewed by Parliament and the government except for the banking restructuring laws that still are in the works.

“The other three laws, they require a serious political will, a serious political commitment between the executive power and the legislative power,” Salam said in English, adding that “I honestly, truly believe that we can finalize those in October if the political will is there.”

“We believe that if those four prior actions are done soon, we get much, much closer to a final (bailout) deal this year,” added Salam referring to a possible full bailout deal with the IMF, which would provide Lebanon some $4 billion and unlock billions more from international governments and institutions. Lebanon’s central bank governor estimated that the country needs at least $12 billion in order to jumpstart its economy.

Salam also said that the talks with the IMF have been partially focused on the unification of the value of the Lebanese pound against the U.S. dollar, since at the present time Lebanon has at least five exchange rates for the pound.

Also on Tuesday, a warning came from the European Union’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ralph Tarraf who tweeted after meeting Aoun that he urged the president “to do his utmost to support and actively contribute to the implementation of the crucial economic, monetary and fiscal reforms that Lebanon has committed to.” Tarraf met Aoun along with other ambassadors including the envoys of Switzerland and Norway.

“The time to act is now,” Tarraf tweeted after the meeting, calling on Lebanon to implement reforms demanded by the IMF.

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


Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Respite center opens to families of those who died in combat

A respite center for families in the United States who have lost loved ones in combat since 9/11 will open Friday on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.
16 hours ago
Downtown Vancouver Washington Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Vancouver City Council bans large fossil fuel facilities

The city council in Vancouver, Washington, has approved a permanent ban on new fossil fuel developments after years of temporary moratoriums.
16 hours ago
Jackson, Miss., Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba speaks at a Sept. 6, 2022, news conference, at City Hall...
Associated Press

Mississippi city with water woes also faces trash trouble

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s capital city is still grappling with a troubled water system, and it could soon see garbage piling up outside homes and businesses. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced Thursday garbage collection will cease after Saturday unless the city starts paying a company that has been doing the work without compensation […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Cross country coaches on leave after sex assault allegations

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A northeastern Indiana university placed its women’s cross country head coach and an assistant on leave Thursday after two former runners claimed in a federal lawsuit they were doped and sexually assaulted. Huntington University, a private, Christian liberal arts university, said it placed head coach Lauren Johnson and assistant coach Curtis […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Randal Worcester walks out of the Crawford County Justice Center in Van Buren, Ark., on Aug....
Associated Press

2 Arkansas deputies filmed in violent arrest fired from jobs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two Arkansas deputies who were caught on video violently arresting a suspect outside a convenience store in August have been fired, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said Thursday. Damante told Fort Smith television station KHBS that deputies Levi White and Zachary King had been fired but did not elaborate on […]
16 hours ago
FILE - A wolf is shown in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., in this file photo provided by the Natio...
Associated Press

Early data indicates Idaho wolf population is holding steady

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s wolf population appears to be holding steady despite recent changes by lawmakers that allow expanded methods and seasons for killing wolves, the state’s top wildlife official said Thursday. Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever told lawmakers on the Natural Resources Interim Committee that preliminary data on human-caused […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
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 […]
Lebanon aims to adopt long-delayed IMF reforms in October