On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that its experts will visit Lebanon next week to discuss ways to “speed up” implementation of agreed reforms required for an IMF loan program amid deteriorating living conditions in the country.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told a regular news briefing, “There’s been slow progress in implementing some of the critical actions that we think are required to move forward with a program,” adding that IMF is looking to support Lebanon as strongly as it can.
An agreement on a $3 billion loan program between the IMF and Lebanon was reached at the staff level in April, but it was conditional on the implementation of a number of economic reforms, including correcting unrealized losses in the banking system.
However, the slow reform progress, including what the IMF views as “key deficiencies” in a proposed bank secrecy law, has raised questions about whether Lebanon has the political will to meet key conditions for a program.
Rice said the discussions in Beirut beginning on September 19th will “prepare the ground for the full mission,” after a new Lebanese government is formed.
Rice also stated that if these reforms are delayed, the cost to Lebanon and the Lebanese people will rise.
“Delaying the implementation of these reforms only increases the cost to Lebanon and the Lebanese people.”
The slow reform progress comes while the country is heading towards a “Huge Collapse” in 2023, as the Lebanese Minister of the economy, Amin Sallam, called it.