IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Lebanon Parliament Approves 2022 Budget 3 Months Before the Year Ends European Ambassadors to Lebanese Politicians: The Time to Act is Now
IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Lebanon After meeting with Lebanese leaders from September 19 to 21, the IMF issued a statement where it notes, “Despite the urgency for action to address Lebanon’s deep economic and social crisis, progress in implementing the reforms agreed under the April SLA remains very slow.” [IMF]
“Very slow” says it all. The IMF is awaiting action by Lebanon on crucial steps including: complete agreement on a realistic 2022 budget; the adoption of capital controls; public sector reforms; a new banking secrecy law; and a banking sector rehabilitation strategy. The IMF staff concludes that until the prior actions agreed to are implemented, the IMF board will not take action on an IMF reform package. Given the government’s non-responsiveness, one has to wonder whether or not Lebanese policy makers understand the serious economic and social failure Lebanon faces in the short term . Time is running out for Lebanon to save itself.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Parliament Approves 2022 Budget 3 Months Before the Year Ends Lebanon’s parliament has just passed the country’s first budget since 2020. It importantly does not address the country’s high deficit and adoption of a credible budget is a requirement for IMF assistance. The exchange rate used in the budget also differed from that defined by the IMF. The budget sees the salaries of public employees increased by three times their previous value. [L’Orient Today] [Ibid]
There is nothing straightforward in how Lebanon’s parliament is responding to the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure funding that will help it move on the road to survival and even recovery. Gamesmanship and false flags are all part of the minuet that passes for debate and constructive compromise. Even when recommendations are sound and contribute to a common goal, there is no interest among some parliamentarians of ceding any ground to others. Lebanon is not an object for manipulation. Lives are at stake. Maybe those parliamentarians who are chronic fault-finders should mobilize to promote rather than serve as a blocking force.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
The Time to Act is Now The European Union and its Member States, as well as Norway and Switzerland published an op-ed in L’Orient Today where they assert, “All relevant Lebanese decision makers can and must do more now to rebuild the economic, monetary and fiscal space in Lebanon, as a first step to bringing its economy back on a path of recovery.” [L’Orient Today]
These European Ambassadors are clearly adamant in their statement pleading with the Lebanese government, including parliament, to show strength and commitment in serving the people. They focused on building trust by modernizing government and providing services as a first step in a process requiring courage and transparency. They also called for full implementation of the IMF reforms. The Europeans are ready to assist, but after so much humanitarian assistance from the international community, it’s Lebanon’s turn to show initiative and determination. Step up, Lebanon. This is no justification in becoming an orphan state.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.