Lebanese PM: We Inherited an Empty Treasury but we Achieved a Lot
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Thursday that his government has met 97 percent of its commitments, adding that he received a promise from Central Bank (BDL) Governor Riad Salameh to intervene in the market, protect the local currency and stop its devaluation against the US dollar.
In a televised address on the occasion of the passing of 100 days since gaining parliament’s confidence vote, Diab said his cabinet has set up a plan to face challenges and found out that the state treasury was empty.
“A hundred days ago, we took command of the ship, while the country was sinking at a great speed. Could any government have stopped this dramatic collapse? Can the collapse be stopped by those who caused it and then left it at the moment of downfall?” he asked.
The premier noted that ten days after gaining the parliament’s confidence, the coronavirus struck the country and became a priority.
“But this did not disappoint us, did not discourage us, nor did it disrupt our work program,” he said, adding that the government succeeded in “securing the maximum protection for the Lebanese, by confronting the epidemic.”
Stressing that his cabinet has achieved “a lot”, Diab emphasized that the magnitude of the problems in the country was greater than the ability of any government to deal with, which contributed to the disruption of a plan that the government intended to implement to obtain financial support in various forms.
“We have started a workshop to implement Lebanon’s commitments to the CEDRE Conference, and today we are on the right path towards starting the practical translation of its decisions… in parallel with the negotiations that were launched with the International Monetary Fund,” he said.
The premier continued: “I can announce today that the government has accomplished 97 percent of its obligations in the ministerial statement for a hundred days, and about 20 percent of its obligations in the year’s work program.”
He also touched on the high dollar exchange rate against the Lebanese pound, and its implications for food and consumer goods.
In this regard, he revealed that he received a promise from Salameh that the BDL would intervene in the market to protect the local currency and subsidize the import of basic food commodities.
“The Lebanese will soon see a fall in commodity prices,” he remarked.