Lebanon News

Mikati to meet financial advisers from Lazard over rescue plan

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati looks on after a working lunch with French President at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on September 24, 2021. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday he will meet with the advisory firm Lazard soon to see how a financial recovery plan it drafted for Lebanon could be developed into a "more realistic" vision for getting the country out of its crisis.

Lebanon would be very lucky if it was able to reach a framework for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund by the end of the year, Mikati said in an interview with broadcaster LBCI. Mikati took office earlier this month determined to revive IMF talks.

In the most detailed comments yet on his approach for trying to reverse Lebanon's devastating financial meltdown, Mikati also promised a fair distribution of the losses in the financial system and to protect the rights of small depositors.

Lazard helped the previous Lebanese government draw up a financial rescue plan that identified losses of $90 billion.

But the plan was shot down by objections from the banks, which said it made them foot too much of the bill for the collapse, in addition to opposition from the central bank and the ruling political elite that got Lebanon into its crisis.

"I will not announce anything except if the whole financial recovery plan is complete," Mikati told LBCI.

"We have the financial recovery plan, I have asked the company that set it to come to Lebanon and they will come and I will have a meeting with them in the coming days ... to see how we can update this plan", Mikati said.

"I want to ask for a more realistic plan to get out of this crisis we are in," he added.

With elections due next Spring, Mikati is in a race against time to conclude an IMF agreement seen as Lebanon's only path to accessing aid from foreign donors who want to see reforms before they will unlock funds.

"We will be very lucky if we finish before new year," Mikati said, asked about how long it might take to reach an IMF deal.

"We will be lucky if we put the main framework (by then)," he said.

Mikati formed a government earlier this month after a year of political deadlock that has compounded an economic meltdown that has propelled three quarters of its population into poverty and seen its currency plummet by more than 90%.

 

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