Lebanon’s Hariri discusses possible technical assistance with World Bank, IMF

Hariri speaks during a regional banking conference in Beirut on November 23, 2017. (File photo: AP)

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Saad Hariri on Thursday asked international funding bodies for support in drawing up an emergency rescue plan for his protest-wracked country.

Donors including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday rebuffed a plea for financial aid pending the rapid formation of a new government to implement key economic reforms.

Caretaker premier Saad Hariri on Thursday made phone calls to World Bank president David Malpass and IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, his office said.

“Hariri stressed his commitment to preparing an urgent rescue plan to resolve the crisis, while waiting for the formation of a new cabinet able to implement it,” it said in a statement.

“He discussed with both the technical support the Work Bank and IMF could provide in drawing up this plan,” it added.

Lebanon has been rocked by unprecedented popular protests since October 17 over official mismanagement and corruption demonstrators blame for a deteriorating economy.

In a country where the local currency is pegged to the US dollar and used in everyday transactions, banks have gradually restricted greenback withdrawals, causing a dollar liquidity crisis that has made imports increasingly difficult and expensive.

Hariri also spoke to the president of the World Bank about “the possibility of the bank...increasing its contribution to funding international trade to Lebanon” to help importers bring in essential goods.

Lebanon has been without a cabinet since Hariri stepped down on October 29, with a bitterly divided political class unable to agree on a new premier ever since.

Parliamentary consultations are expected to start towards naming a new prime minister on Monday, after the Sunni Muslim religious establishment rejected an alternative candidate for premier and threw its support behind Hariri.

Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlock in recent years, compounded by the 2011 breakout of civil war in neighboring Syria.

A recession of more than 0.2 percent is expected for this year, the World Bank says.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:06 - GMT 11:06
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