WEB 200216 Kristalina Georgieva IMF-1581855482579
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva delivers the main opening session speech at the Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020 on Sunday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Lebanese leaders must show “courage” and a willingness to reform the country’s struggling economy to get out of the chronic financial crisis, the International Monterey Fund chief said here yesterday, a few days after Lebanon said it had requested the IMF for technical help.

Top Lebanese officials agreed on Thursday to ask the IMF for the assistance, Finance Minister Gazi Wazni told reporters after a meeting at the presidential palace. “We agreed to continue discussion in the coming period to make a decision, which is not easy, and it’s important for the country, the depositors and the banks and economic sectors and foreign ties,” he explained.

The IMF confirmed a day earlier that Lebanon had asked the organisation for “advice and technical expertise on the macroeconomic challenges facing the economy,” according to a statement. “We stand ready to assist the authorities,” the statement said.

However, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Sunday that Lebanon must embark on serious structural reforms to end its economic crisis.

Lebanon’s debt, valued at $87 billion, represents 150 per cent of its GDP, according to most recent estimates. The crisis is rooted in decades of state corruption and bad governance that have burdened Lebanon with one of the world’s heaviest public debts. The international community has pledged more than $11 billion in financial aid that Lebanon desperately needs, but has made it conditional on the speedy implementation of economic reforms.

Lebanon “must have the courage” to speed up those required reforms, the IMF said during the panel session at the opening of the Global Women’s Forum 2020 in Dubai yesterday.

Lebanese parliament last week endorsed the new cabinet, formed after months of anti-corruption protests.

Georgieva urged the Lebanese government to “listen to the people” to find a way out of the current impasse.