BEIRUT – Negotiations between the Lebanese government and the International Monetary Fund officially kicked off today.
Here’s what we know:
• The Lebanese delegation is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami, and Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo is heading the IMF delegation. The Lebanese team also includes Finance Minister Youssef Khalil, Economy Minister Amin Salam, Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh and Charbel Kardahi and Rafik Haddad – two advisers to President Michel Aoun.
• The IMF team was supposed to arrive in Lebanon in mid-January, but because of travel restrictions due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, negotiations were delayed by one week and are currently taking place virtually via videoconferencing.
• Today’s session will cover the agenda of the negotiations and the different points to be discussed in the coming two weeks.
• Chami said topics under discussion include the budget, the banking sector, the exchange rate, the balance of payments, the energy sector, governance and assistance to poor families and other issues that make up the essential pillars of the government’s economic recovery plan.
• He also said that he hopes the negotiations will be completed in the shortest period possible, but given the complexity of the issues at hand, it is highly possible they will need several meetings before an agreement is reached.
• He also added that after negotiations are concluded and the government gives its approval, a preliminary agreement will be signed with the IMF. The IMF team will then send their report to the organization’s board for final approval so implementation can begin.