A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is scheduled to arrive in Beirut next week to evaluate the progress made by the Lebanese government in implementing crucial reforms.
According to informed sources, this visit will serve as another crucial checkpoint to assess the extent of progress, particularly regarding legislation that has been referred to the Parliament.
Several bills, including banking sector restructuring, financial stabilization (addressing losses and deposits), and capital controls, have made little headway regarding study and approval.
Sources have pointed to the ongoing debate between the government and Parliament, notably evident in last week’s exchanges between Deputy Prime Minister Saade al-Chami and the head of the Finance and Budget Committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan. The debate centers around determining which entity is responsible for the delay in implementing reforms, whether it falls on the government or Parliament.
During the visit, the IMF delegation will hold meetings at the Banque du Liban (BDL) to assess the acting Governor’s commitment to refrain from lending to the state in dollars and Lebanese lira. They will also inquire about the latest developments concerning the launch of the “Bloomberg Sayrafa” platform.
Notably, the government has not officially approved the platform’s launch, and training has not yet commenced, leading experts to estimate that it may take a month or two to be fully operational. The IMF’s push for exchange rate unification makes the promised platform a significant step in that direction. Its success hinges on its transparency and ability to record supply and demand accurately.
Additionally, the IMF delegation will evaluate the 2024 budget proposal and assess its lack of reform steps.
Sources have emphasized that international warnings will remain on various fronts in the coming phase, particularly concerning the danger of the “cash economy” expanding while unreliable banks remain. It remains to be seen how long these banks will remain in existence in their current form while being financially insolvent.
On another note, sources have refuted inevitable leaks associated with the acting BDL Governor’s visit to Saudi Arabia, specifically, any speculations about requests for support or similar matters. They clarified that the primary purpose of the visit was to attend a banking conference, and the other meetings were purely formal and protocol-oriented, with no discussions regarding aid or loans to Lebanon.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in coordination with the broader Arab and international consensus, encourages the Lebanese to prioritize implementing reforms in line with the agreement with the IMF before considering any further support or assistance.