Lebanon’s Hezbollah group is against allowing the IMF to manage the country’s financial crisis, though it does not oppose Lebanon seeking the Fund’s advice, the group’s deputy leader was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and designated as a terrorist group by the United States, is one of the main parties that backs the new Beirut government, which has requested technical but not financial assistance from the IMF.
“We will not accept submitting to (imperialist) tools ... meaning we do not accept submitting to the International Monetary Fund to manage the crisis,” Hezbollah’s al-Manar news outlet cited Sheikh Naim Qassem as saying.
“Yes there is nothing to prevent consultations (with the IMF), and this is what the Lebanese government is doing,” Qassem said.
Facing a huge public debt burden and an acute liquidity crisis, the Lebanese government on Tuesday appointed international investment and law firms as its financial and legal advisers on a widely expected restructuring of its sovereign debt.
The IMF began meetings with Lebanese authorities on February 20 to provide broad technical advice on how to tackle the country’s crippling financial and economic crisis. The fund had said its team would stay until February 23.
Lebanon is grappling with an acute liquidity crunch that has prompted banks fearing capital flight to impose strict controls. The Lebanese pound has slumped by about 60 percent on a parallel market, hiking inflation.
Saddled with one of the highest public debt burdens in the world, Beirut must decide quickly what to do about fast-approaching debt payments including a $1.2 billion Eurobond maturing on March 9.