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Lebanon crisis

IMF says new Lebanese government is ‘critical’ to implement reforms

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A new Lebanese government with a clear mandate is essential to implement badly needed economic reforms to pull the country out of financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

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Foreign donors have said they will not bail out the state, which is drowning in debt, unless Lebanese politicians tackle graft and waste - the root causes of the collapse.

“It is critical that a new government be formed promptly with a strong mandate to implement the necessary reforms,” said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice in a scheduled press conference.

“The challenges facing Lebanon and the Lebanese people are exceptionally large, and that reform program is badly needed.”

Saad al-Hariri was designated prime minister in October but has since been at loggerheads with President Michel Aoun over the formation of a cabinet. A meeting last week to discuss a new cabinet ended in a public repudiation.

Rice added that there were currently no program discussions between the IMF and Beirut, only technical assistance with the Ministry of Finance and some state-owned enterprises.

He said further contacts are expected during the fund’s virtual Spring Meetings that kick off next week.

The outgoing cabinet has stayed on in a caretaker capacity since quitting in August on the back of the port explosion that killed 200 people and destroyed swathes of Beirut.

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