Lebanon Needs Economic Structural Reforms to Shore Up Confidence - IMF (Reuters)
Last Modified: 12:11 PM, Thu Feb 13, 2020
13 February 2020

Word Count: 373

Lebanon needs to undertake a series of economic structural reforms to shore up confidence and contain inflation as it moves to shore up its economy, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said today. Any decisions on debt restructuring would have to be made by the Lebanese government in consultation with its creditors, but the IMF had no role in that, he said. "Our sense of (what) the Lebanese authorities need to take ... is a package of economic and structural reforms," he said. "At this stage, what has been requested from Lebanon authorities is our technical assistance and advice to help them with the reforms that they want to put in place to restore stability and growth," he said. "There are some long-standing structural problems in many sectors of the economy that need to be addressed, and we believe these steps would help improve conditions for everyone, most notably the poor and the middle class," he said.

Lebanon Needs Economic Structural Reforms to Shore Up Confidence - IMF

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Lebanon needs to undertake a series of economic structural reforms to shore up confidence and contain inflation as it moves to shore up its economy, a spokesman for the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters that Lebanon had requested technical assistance from the Fund, but had not asked for any financial assistance.

Any decisions on debt restructuring would have to be made by the Lebanese government in consultation with its creditors, but the IMF had no role in that, he said.

The government of heavily indebted Lebanon is grappling with an economic crisis that has fueled violent protests, and must urgently decide on how to deal with fast-approaching debt payments, including a $1.2 billion Eurobond due on March 9.

Rice said the IMF was ready to help Lebanese authorities as they worked on a needed package of economic and structural reforms to address the issue of public confidence.

"Our sense of (what) the Lebanese authorities need to take ... is a package of economic and structural reforms," Rice told a regular IMF briefing.

"At this stage, what has been requested from Lebanon authorities is our technical assistance and advice to help them with the reforms that they want to put in place to restore stability and growth," he said.

"There are some long-standing structural problems in many sectors of the economy that need to be addressed, and we believe these steps would help improve conditions for everyone, most notably the poor and the middle class," he said.

But any decisions on debt restructuring would be up to Lebanese authorities and their creditors, not IMF officials.

"Those are decisions and negotiations that they undertake in consultation with their own legal advisers and financial advisers," Rice said.

An IMF technical team is expected to arrive in Beirut in the next few days to help draw up an economic, financial and monetary plan, a senior Lebanese government source said on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear whether the technical assistance would involve a plan for debt restructuring. Some politicians have expressed support for consulting the IMF before any plan is put forward to manage the debt payments. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Slugline: LEBANON-CRISIS/IMF