Lebanon asks the IMF for help

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As Lebanon’s government grapples with an economic crisis that has fueled increasingly violent protests, the heavily indebted country must urgently decide on how to deal with fast-approaching debt payments, including a $1.2 billion Eurobond due on March 9.

“We have recently received a request from the Lebanese authorities to offer advice and technical expertise on the macroeconomic challenges facing the economy,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.

He said the IMF regularly provides advice to its member countries on policies and reforms to restore economic stability and promote growth. The IMF statement made no mention of financial assistance for Lebanon.

“Any decisions on debt are the authorities’, to be made in consultation with their own legal and financial advisers,” Rice added.

As part of the request, the senior government source said Lebanon asked the IMF to send a team to Beirut to help draw up a comprehensive plan to avoid default.

The financial crisis, worse than any Lebanon endured in its 1975-90 civil war, came to a head last year as slowing capital inflows led to a liquidity crunch and demonstrations erupted against the ruling elite.

Deciding how to handle Lebanon’s next sovereign debt maturity is a top priority for Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government, which won a vote of confidence in Parliament on Tuesday.

Read more via Reuters

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