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Lebanon’s Hariri Appeals for more Help with Imports

Lebanon’s Hariri Appeals for more Help with Imports

Saturday, 7 December, 2019 - 12:30
A man counts Lebanese pounds at an exchange office in Beirut, Lebanon, August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri wrote to the leaders of Germany, Britain and Spain on Saturday to request help in securing credit for imports, his press office said.

On Friday, Hariri sought help from the leaders of Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States, China, Italy and Egypt to finance imports of essential goods.

Lebanon is suffering a crisis that has led to hard currency shortages, impeding imports amid zero economic growth and massive debt. Local banks have imposed unprecedented capital controls and thousands of employees have been either laid off or had their salaries slashed.

The crisis has worsened since Oct. 17, when nationwide protests against years of corruption and mismanagement erupted, leading to Hariri's resignation two weeks later. Protesters now want the entire political elite out.

Importers of fuel, medicine and wheat warn of shortages if the situation persists.

President Michel Aoun said Friday the financial measures taken in the country are “temporary because of the current financial conditions.”

Aoun, who spoke at Baabda Palace during a meeting with international investment bankers, said that dealing with the economic and financial crisis will be the priority of the new government once it's formed. He added that offshore exploration for oil and gas will begin in January and would boost the country's credentials.

Aoun has called for binding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister on Monday.

He said the formation of a new cabinet would help friendly countries release $11 billion in loans and grants made by international donors at the CEDRE conference in Paris last year.

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