Lebanese PM Says Preliminary Talks With IMF Going Forward


BEIRUT (AP) – The Lebanese prime minister said on Monday that preliminary talks with the International Monetary Fund are progressing as the small nation struggles to emerge from one of the world’s worst economic crises in more than a century.

Najib Mikati told an economic conference in Beirut that a financial recovery plan amended by asset management company Lazard, the government’s financial adviser, would be ready by the end of November.

Mikati’s announcement came a month after Lebanon’s finance ministry said it had resumed “interactions” with the IMF over a bailout.

A new government was formed in September after more than a year of political wrangling between rival groups. Later in the month, the Cabinet appointed a delegation to resume bailout negotiations with the international agency after talks suspended last year.

“Things are progressing on the right track,” Mikati said adding that “we hope that we will soon have a letter of intent” which will be delivered to the IMF.

Deep disagreements built up within the Lebanese delegation during last year’s negotiations with the IMF, with the government on one side and the central bank and local lenders on the other. One of the main points of disagreement at the time was the estimate of losses.

“For the first time, we have unified figures” that were given to the IMF, Mikati said. He has not given a date when he expects talks with the IMF to resume.

In early March 2020, Lebanon failed to repay $ 1.2 billion in loans, marking its very first default. Since the start of the crisis in October 2019, the Lebanese currency has lost more than 90% of its value and more than 70% of the residents of Lebanon now live in poverty.

Days after the default in March last year, the government said Lebanon would stop paying all maturing Eurobonds in foreign currencies estimated to be worth around $ 30 billion. Lebanon’s total debt is around $ 90 billion, including about $ 60 billion in Lebanese pounds, making it one of the highest in the world.

The World Bank said in June that Lebanon’s severe economic and financial crisis would likely be one of the worst the world has seen in more than 150 years.

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