BEIRUT — The International Monetary Fund is preparing to set up a Resident Representative Office in Lebanon, a little over a decade after the Fund last had a resident representative, or pointperson for an assistance program, in the country, sources told L’Orient-Le Jour.
Here’s what we know:
• Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo, the head of the International Monetary Fund delegation to Lebanon, is traveling to Beirut before the end of the month to appoint a new resident representative for the country, the sources said.
• Frederico Lima, an economist who joined the IMF in September 2016, is set to take up the post, last held by Eric Mottu, who is now a deputy division chief in the Fund, from September 2009 to August 2011, the sources added.
• The IMF and the Finance Ministry did not respond to requests for confirmation. The Fund only said that a visit was scheduled "before the end of the month" to discuss the progress of the reforms.
• The IMF’s Resident Representative Office in Beirut was opened in January 2008, in the wake of the Paris III conference organized in January 2007 for the benefit of Lebanon in the aftermath of the Israeli attack in July 2006. In 2011, the office was closed down.
• Resident Representative Offices are generally run by foreign nationals appointed either before or during the start of an assistance program by the IMF, one of the sources explained.
• While the Resident Representative Office has been shuttered since 2011, the local representative office, now headed by the Lebanese Najla Nakhlé, has remained open ever since. “The new resident representative and the local representative will be called upon to collaborate,” a source explained.
• The reopening of the resident representative office comes at a key moment in the discussions between the IMF and Lebanon. A staff level agreement was signed between Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government and the Fund in early April. The agreement promised a financial assistance of $3 billion over 46 months if certain prior actions or reforms are implemented. The staff level agreement remains subject to final approval by the Executive Board of the IMF.
• Lima, who will take on the post as the new resident representative, holds a law degree from the University of Coimbra, in Portugal, and then studied economics at the University of Cambridge, where he obtained a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a doctorate. According to his profile on the IMF website, Lima specializes in emerging markets and low-income economies.