Lebanon PM says government to seek IMF aid

Beirut (AFP) –


Lebanon will seek financial help from the International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Thursday, after the government adopted an economic rescue plan.

"We will go to the IMF to request a programme," Diab said in a live TV address, promising "a clear road map to manage public finances".

The plan came against a backdrop of a deep economic crisis that in March saw the country default on sovereign debt for the first time ever.

The country will seek more than $10 billion dollars in financial support on top of $11 billion in grants and loans already pledged by international donors in 2018, Diab said.

He added that the economic reform plan, unanimously approved on Thursday during a cabinet meeting, should see positive economic growth restored from 2022.

The aim, said Diab, would be to reduce Lebanon's enormous public debt to less than 100 percent of GDP.

The plan will provide "direct and indirect support to needy sectors" and social programmes, he said, but warned that "the road ahead will not be easy".

Lebanon had already requested technical help from the IMF in February, in order to help the country with its economic reform plans, but had not at that stage requested a programme involving funding.

Forty-five percent of Lebanon's population now lives below the poverty line, according to official estimates, amid an economic crisis that is the country's worst in decades.

The country is one of the most indebted states in the world.