Lebanon must cooperate with IMF but needs a new government – Hariri

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri gestures as he speaks during a conference in Beirut, Lebanon, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon must cooperate with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank over its economy, which is in deep crisis, but that should be overseen by a new government and not the current caretaker cabinet, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday.

Lebanese politicians have been unable to agree on a new government since Hariri resigned as prime minister in October, prompted by protests against state corruption and bad governance. This has left the country rudderless and with no rescue plan as the financial and economic situation worsens.

Asked if the caretaker administration should act on the economic crisis, Hariri said: “We all know that any step we want to carry out in the economic file needs us to cooperate with the World Bank, the IMF and other international institutions.”

“Let’s suppose that I spoke to the World Bank and we agreed with them on something, can I implement this agreement as part of a caretaker government. No, it is not possible,” he said.

Only a government operating normally with the confidence of parliament could enact such an agreement, Hariri said in comments reported by Lebanon’s National News Agency.

Last month, the powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah and its political allies nominated Hassan Diab, a little-known former government minister, to form the new government. But talks aimed at agreeing on the cabinet are mired in complications.

“The basis of the solution is to form a new government and not refloating a government that resigned at the request of the street,” Hariri said.

Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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