Lebanese caretaker Economy Minister Amin Salam affirmed on Tuesday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation visiting Beirut this week carries a very clear message stressing an urgency that Lebanon approves and passes reform laws.
“The IMF carries a very clear message, which is the urgency in approving these laws; otherwise, we will not be able to move forward to reach a final agreement with the fund,” said Salam.
The Minister spoke at a press conference after his meeting with a visiting IMF delegation with whom he followed up on the details of the draft laws and the preconditions that the organization had requested in order to reach a final agreement with Lebanon.
“In today’s meeting, we discussed all the recent developments as per the reform laws requested by the IMF, namely the Capital Control Law, the Banking Secrecy Law, the Bank Restructuring Law, and the 2022 Budget Law,” he said.
The Economy Minister stressed that regardless of the “ambiguity” of the situation, the IMF delegation has echoed a positive message, which expressed full commitment to the agreement that started five months ago.
“The IMF has full intention to reach a final agreement with Lebanon and has confidence that the consultations and sessions held between Parliament and the government within the past few weeks will show positive results in terms of approving the required laws,” the caretaker Minister added.
Lebanon has been trapped in an economic meltdown since 2019 that has impoverished more than 80% of the population and drained state coffers.
An April staff-level agreement between Lebanon's government and the IMF called on authorities to increase revenues to fund the crippled public sector and more social spending by calculating customs taxes at a "unified exchange rate".
Lebanon has barely advanced on the IMF's 10 pre-requisites due to resistance from political factions, commercial banks and powerful private lobby groups.
Meanwhile, Salam said his discussions with the visiting IMF delegation also touched on the country’s faltering food security.
“There are clear instructions by the IMF and the World Bank that Lebanon needs special care to achieve food security; thus, during the World Bank’s annual meeting, we will reiterate Lebanon’s need for support on the level of food security,” he said.
He stressed that food security means rebuilding a sustainable national capacity to secure the country’s strategic stock, and fostering the development of Lebanese agricultural and educational programs as a bridge to agricultural industrialization.
“The IMF will consult with the World Bank so that Lebanon can benefit from the $30 billion that the fund has allocated to support food security projects worldwide, keeping in mind that the IMF has classified Lebanon as one of the first three countries in the world that can benefit from these funds,” Salam explained.