IMF Says New Lebanon Government Requested Advice

A day after receiving a vote of confidence from parliament, the government on Wednesday afternoon asked the International Monetary Fund to provide advice on its economic plan, a fund spokesman said.

However, the IMF statement made no mention of financial assistance for crisis-battered Lebanon.

The authorities asked for "advice and technical expertise on the macroeconomic challenges facing the economy," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.

Part of the mission of the Washington-based crisis lender is to offer "advice to its member countries on policies and reforms to restore macro-stability and promote growth." 

However, "any decisions on debt are the authorities', to be made in consultation with their own legal and financial advisors," Rice said.

The country is on the brink of defaulting on its sovereign debt, with a $1.2 billion Eurobond payment due next month.

Lebanon's parliament on Tuesday backed the cabinet and program of incoming Prime Minister Hassan Diab in a confidence vote amid widespread and at times violent protests.

New premier Diab, a little-known academic and former education minister, was tasked with forming a government in December after mass rallies against official corruption and economic woes forced premier Saad Hariri to resign.

Diab has warned that the economy could collapse without an emergency plan to restore order.

The international community has pledged more than $11 billion in desperately needed financial aid but made it conditional on the speedy implementation of economic reforms.

Rice in late January said the IMF already was providing technical assistance to Beirut but denied there had been any request for a loan.

Source: Naharnet

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