A team of experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has traveled to Lebanon to provide the debt-ridden country with advice on how to alleviate a deepening economic crisis.
The team from the US-based organization met with new Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab after arriving in Beirut on Thursday morning, Lebanese broadcasters LBC and Al Jadeed reported.
The IMF said in a statement that the team would be in Lebanon until Sunday and would provide broad technical advice to the newly-formed government. Beirut has not yet requested financial aid from the fund.
Lebanon has been facing a tough economic situation because of alleged mismanagement and corruption during the past several decades. Protests started in the country in October last year, when the government proposed imposing a tax on WhatsApp calls, along with other austerity measures.
On October 29, the then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned under pressure from the unprecedented protests, creating a political void that lasted until January 21, when Diab assumed office as the country’s new premier.
Diab faces one of the worst crises in his county’s recent history and urgent decisions about the upcoming debt payments, particularly a 1.2-billion-dollar sovereign bond due early next month.
On Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, an influential politician in the country, proposed the restructuring of Lebanon’s debts as the best solution for looming maturities.
Beirut will on Friday review proposals from firms bidding to provide it with financial and legal advice on its options, Reuters quoted an unnamed source familiar with the matter as saying on Thursday. The source said the government was resolute to take a swift decision on what firm to take financial advice from. Beirut has so far issued requests for proposals to seven firms to give it advice.
According to copy of a decree seen by Reuters, the Lebanese government on Wednesday set up a committee tasked with drafting an economic recovery plan. The committee includes ministers, government officials, a central bank representative, and economists.
Lebanon’s national debt stands at around 85 billion dollars.