Lebanon’s negotiations with IMF on hold pending start of reforms – minister

Lebanon’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are on hold pending the start of economic reforms and agreement on the Lebanese side on a common approach for calculating losses, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said on Thursday.

Wazni will remain in contact with the IMF until the talks resume, he said in remarks to al-Joumhuria newspaper that were confirmed to Reuters by official sources.

“What is being worked on today is defining the losses and their size in all sectors,” Wazni stated. “We must come up with a unified approach agreed upon with all political forces and in coordination between the government and parliament.”

“…We must agree as soon as possible.” he added.

In May, Lebanon began negotiations with the IMF, amid hopes to secure aid to address a financial crisis considered the biggest threat to the country since its 1975-90 civil war.

But the process got bogged down due to a row over the scale of the financial losses that has embroiled Lebanon’s government, central bank, commercial banks, and MPs from the country’s main political parties.

On Wednesday, a parliamentary fact-finding committee estimated that losses in the system were between a quarter and half the amount set out in a government recovery plan, which was submitted to the IMF.

The IMF has said the government’s numbers seems to be about the right order of magnitude.

Reuters reported also on Wednesday that several current and former Lebanese officials, diplomats, international officials, economists, and analysts agreed that the IMF negotiations were going nowhere.