Lebanon

Lebanon’s caretaker government Wednesday approved opening credit lines totaling $116 million to help fix its crippled state electricity grid, the Associated Press reported. The cash-strapped country for over two years has struggled with rampant power cuts that have crippled much of public life, worsening a broader economic crisis that has pulled over three-quarters of the country’s population into poverty. Today, households only receive about an hour of state electricity per day, with millions now relying on expensive private generator suppliers to power their homes.
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A U.S. court of appeals determined this week that cases against Lebanese commercial banks can be tried outside Lebanon, according to a decision seen by Reuters, paving the way for more cases by depositors seeking to unlock their frozen funds, Reuters reported. The court decision, issued on Dec. 15 in a case brought by Lebanese depositors against leading lender Bank Audi, overturned a lower district court's decision that said Beirut courts had "exclusive jurisdiction" to try cases against Lebanese banks.
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Lebanon’s parliament late Tuesday approved some amendments to a banking secrecy law that has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund before it agrees to a bailout program amid the country’s economic meltdown, the Associated Press reported. Despite the changes, legal advocacy groups say the alterations to the law will likely not be enough to please the IMF because it restricts moves to lift banking secrecy provisions to judicial authorities.
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Outraged bank clients, at least two of them armed, stormed four commercial banks across Lebanon on Tuesday over withdrawal limits that have been imposed throughout the country amid a financial meltdown, Reuters reported. Cases of bank hold-ups have snowballed across Lebanon as residents have grown exasperated over the informal capital controls that banks have imposed since an economic downturn began in 2019.
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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.
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Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati won the support of more than 50 legislators Thursday to keep his post following last month’s parliamentary elections as the country’s multiple crises deepen with no solution in sight, the Associated Press reported. After a day of binding consultations between President Michel Aoun and parliamentary blocs, Mikati was named by 54 lawmakers while his main rival for the post got less than half that figure. Forty-six legislators abstained from naming anyone.
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A leading international credit ratings agency warned Friday that the results of this month’s parliamentary elections in Lebanon make it difficult for any coalition to have a governing majority, potentially complicating implementation of reforms, the Associated Press reported. Shortly after the warning from Fitch Ratings, the Lebanese pound briefly hit new lows against the dollar, causing chaos in markets around the country. Lebanon is in the grips of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.
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Lebanon’s currency hit a new low Tuesday as deep divisions within the newly elected parliament raised concerns that political paralysis could further exacerbate one of the worst economic meltdowns in history, the Associated Press reported. The legislature elected May 15 showed no clear majority for any group and a fragmented and polarized parliament divided between pro- and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers. The sides will likely find it difficult to work together to form a new government and enact desperately needed reforms. Among those elected to the 128-member parliament were 13 independents.
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Lebanon's government foresees cancelling "a large part" of the Central Bank's foreign currency obligations to commercial banks and dissolving non-viable banks by November, according to a financial recovery plan passed by the cabinet on Friday, Reuters reported. The document, seen by Reuters and verified as accurate by a minister, was passed by cabinet in its final session hours before losing decision-making powers, following the election of a new parliament on May 15.
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The Association of Banks in Lebanon said on Saturday it “completely rejects” the government’s latest draft of a financial recovery plan meant to pull the country out of an economic meltdown, Reuters reported. In a statement shared with Reuters, the ABL called the plan “disastrous” and said it would leave banks and depositors shouldering the “major portion” of losses. The government estimates that the financial sector's losses amount to $72 billion.
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