This Week In Lebanon: 4/9/2022

Saturday, April 9, 2022



April 9, 2022

IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement with Lebanon on Debt-Relief Package
In a public statement today, Mr. Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, head of the International Monetary Fund mission concerning Lebanon’s request for a debt-relief package confirmed that, “The Lebanese authorities and the IMF team have reached a staff-level agreement on comprehensive economic policies that could be supported by a 46-month Extended Fund Arrangement (EFF) with requested access of SDR 2,173.9 million (equivalent to about US$3 billion). This agreement is subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board, after the timely implementation of all prior actions and confirmation of international partners’ financial support.” [Reuters] [Official IMF Statement]


“This is a significant step forward for Lebanon. The Speaker of the Parliament and President of the Republic have joined with the Prime Minister and his team to conclude a Staff Agreement with the IMF. This is an important milestone but much more work remains in order to reach a final reform agenda and before financial aid is forthcoming. It’s a sign that Lebanon will not be alone in its efforts to lift itself from financial disaster if it takes the right reform measures in favor of its citizens.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

A Plethora of Lists Divides the Opposition
After the official lists were announced for the May 15 parliamentary elections, supporters of the opposition movement find themselves looking at a fragmented movement where opposition candidates are running against one another. [L’Orient Today]

“It is controversial whether the plethora of lists competing in the upcoming election is positive or not. Reformists are working against themselves by competing with each other rather than pooling their resources, thus ceding the ground to the well-organized traditional parties. Now that the lists are public, it is clear that the work to secure even 15 seats from the traditional parties will be an uphill struggle, which may entrench the traditional parties even further. Time for Lebanon’s opposition to decide if their future is in winning at all costs or whining about their competition.”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Lebanon’s Central Bank Counts its Gold for First Time in at Least 30 years
As a result of international pressure, Lebanon’s Central Bank is counting its gold reserves. Over the last two years, 20 percent of the process has been completed with delays due to the pandemic. The Central Bank is also estimated to have 700,000 coins in reserve. [The National]


“Yet another controversy surrounds Lebanon’s gold reserves. Public opinion is divided on the issue of selling the gold to help alleviate some of the country’s poverty; while others hold fast to the position that it is Lebanon’s last bit of financial security. The audit comes at an awkward time for the Central Bank. Its Governor, Riad Salame, is under investigation for illegal enrichment in Europe; a forensic audit is still incomplete; and the IMF has concluded a staff-level agreement that includes an actual count of the gold reserves. The gold audit started in 2020 and was interrupted by COVID and the lack of skilled auditors. So what will this effort unearth? Let’s hope it’s good news for Lebanon.”

-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.