Thursday, December 7

IMF says Lebanon talks progressing, staff mission seen this month

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WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund remains engaged with Lebanese authorities on economic reforms in the country where a 2019 financial meltdown crashed the currency and left most of the population poor, and another IMF staff mission is planned there this month, spokesperson Gerry Rice said on Thursday .

“We remain closely engaged. We are trying to work with the Lebanese authorities to formulate a reform program that can address the severe economic financial challenges Lebanon is facing,” Rice said.

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“I would say the discussions are progressing well, but extensive work is needed in the period ahead. Lebanon’s challenges are deep and complex. They will require time and a commitment,” he said, but gave no further details.

The visit of IMF staff was first flagged by Lebanon’s Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami earlier this month.

Lebanese officials held talks with the IMF last month with the aim of securing a deal seen as the only way to secure the country’s exit from the crisis.

An IMF technical team visited Lebanon from Feb. 28 to March 1 to take stock of the work done already and outline the next steps needed to move forward with an IMF program.

Sources briefed on the February talks previously told Reuters these would include lifting or amending the country’s strict banking secrecy regulations, credited with boosting Lebanon’s economy in the past but now seen as hiding ill-gotten gains and enabling tax dodging. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)