BEIRUT — “A full delegation from the International Monetary Fund is expected to visit Lebanon in mid-March to finalize talks between the Lebanese government and the IMF, before the agreement can be sent to the IMF’s board,” Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami said Wednesday.
Here’s what we know:
• Between Feb. 28 and March 1, a small team from the IMF, headed by Ernesto Rigo Ramirez visited Lebanon and met with the Lebanese team in charge of the negotiations. The team also met with President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
• The purpose of Ramirez’s visit was to evaluate the progress of the negotiations and determine the steps required to reach a final agreement with the fund.
• The statement issued by Chami’s office stated that the Lebanese and IMF teams agreed on steps needed to move forward with the talks — specifically, the need for comprehensive economic reforms, the restructuring of the financial sector, the unification of exchange rates and reforms related to poverty alleviation, governance and, lastly, the electricity file.
• The IMF team emphasized the need to enact new laws to accompany the reforms before a final agreement can be sent to the fund’s board.
• MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who is also the head of the Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee, called for the committee to convene on Tuesday to begin discussions of the 2022 budget proposal. The budget is a building block for any future deal with the fund.
• Last week, Aoun signed the request to transfer the budget proposal from the government to Parliament, after Mikati and Finance Minister Youssef Khalil also signed it the previous day.
• The first round of talks with the IMF ended on Feb. 11. After the two weeks of talks over video conferencing, the IMF team issued a letter expanding on its evaluation of the economic conditions in Lebanon, and listed the actions required from the Lebanese side.