IMF to Send Mission to Lebanon Next Week to Discuss Slow Reform Progress

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that a staff mission 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, Reuters reported. "We are looking to support Lebanon as strongly as we can. It's a difficult situation," 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." The IMF and Lebanon in April reached a staff-level agreement on a $3 billion loan program, but this was contingent on enactment of a range of economic reforms, including addressing unrealized losses in Lebanon's banking system. The slow 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 meetings in Beirut starting on Sept. 19 will "prepare the ground for a full mission" after a new Lebanese government is formed. Read more.