IMF calls for fiscal reforms in Lebanon

13 Jul 18

The International Monetary Fund has called for a change of government in Lebanon to drive through structural and fiscal reforms to boost growth.

In an interview with Reuters, the IMF director of the Middle East and Central Asia Jihad Azour said: “We are looking forward to seeing a new government.

“We consider that confidence and stability are to be achieved by accelerating the reforms by pursuing fiscal adjustment and by reforming the key structures that are currently impeding the Lebanese economy from growing and increasing the burden on public finance.”

The parliamentary elections took place in May but a new unity government has yet to be agreed.

Leaders from the establishment, however, have said they recognise the need to start reforms.  

The Middle Eastern country has experienced weak growth since 2011 and the IMF has estimated growth rates of 1 to 1.5% in 2017 and 2018.

In April, international donors met in Paris following the Lebanese prime minister’s call for international help to cope with the impact of war in neighbouring Syria, where the donors pledged more than $11bn of investments, conditional to reforms.

Since the war broke out seven years ago, more than 1 million refugees have fled to Lebanon from Syria and economic growth has collapsed to less than 1% a year, from an average of 8%.

The IMF has also called for immediate fiscal adjustment to improve the public debt, which stood at more than 150% of GDP at the end of 2017.

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