The Lebanese government and the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday finished the first phase of “talks aimed at reaching an agreement that would re-put the Lebanese economy on the correct track,” the Finance Ministry said.
“We are relieved over the atmosphere of these preliminary discussions and we expect the coming discussions to be as constructive,” Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said in a statement issued by the Ministry.
Teams from the Finance Ministry and the central bank and representatives of the offices of President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab took part in the video-conference talks, the Ministry added in a statement.
The global body for its part said it held remote meetings with Wazni and other officials.
They aim to reach “a comprehensive framework that can help Lebanon address the current challenging economic and social conditions and restore sustainability and growth,” a spokesperson said.
Under the rescue plan, the government will seek more than $10 billion in financial support on top of $11 billion in grants and loans already pledged by international donors in 2018.
Last week, Wazni said Lebanon would be seeking between $9 billion and $10 billion from the IMF.
President Michel Aoun has said financial aid from the IMF is “mandatory” for an economic recovery.
The country’s local currency has plummeted in value on the black market in recent weeks, and some 45 percent of the population now live in poverty.
The rescue plan aims to reduce the deficit, restructure a colossal debt, and reorganize an oversized banking sector.
Lebanon is one of the most indebted countries worldwide with a debt equivalent to 170 percent of its gross domestic product. It defaulted on a repayment for the first time ever in March.
The country is also in the grips of a severe liquidity crunch, with depositors unable to make transfers abroad or withdraw dollars.