March 12, 2020 / 3:12 PM / 16 days ago

IMF says Lebanon needs comprehensive economic reform plans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund is waiting for Lebanon to submit a comprehensive plan for tackling the severe economic challenges it faces, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday, days after Beirut said it could not meet upcoming debt payments.

Lebanon, facing the most serious financial crisis since its independence in 1943, has so far requested technical assistance from the IMF but not financial assistance that would typically come as part of a program of reforms.

An IMF team visited Lebanon last month.

“Given the severity of economic conditions in Lebanon, it’s important that the government designs and implements properly a comprehensive package of reforms to effectively address the economic challenges and improve Lebanon’s economic prospects,” Rice said.

Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told Reuters shortly after Rice spoke in Washington that Lebanon would have a plan ready in weeks and it would meet IMF recommendations, adding that any recourse to an IMF program must be politically agreed and its terms should not cause suffering.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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