France is ready to help Lebanon financially
The Economy News - Baghdad
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Mer said France is ready to support Lebanon financially, in a bilateral or multilateral framework, warning against mixing the economic recovery in Lebanon with the US-led efforts to confront Iran in the region.
"France has always been ready to help Lebanon. It has always been the case in the past and this will be the case in the future," he said in remarks reported by Reuters at the end of a meeting of G20 finance officials.
"If Lebanon asks for any help, France will be there," he added.
The prolonged economic crisis in Lebanon escalated last year, amid slowing capital flows in the country and protests against the ruling elite.
As the crisis deepens and the Lebanese people are severely affected, there is no sign of foreign aid. The Arab Gulf states that helped in the past made it clear that any support hinges on Beirut implementing long-awaited reforms to tackle root causes such as corruption and mismanagement.
On Sunday, the Saudi Finance Minister said that the Kingdom is in contact with allies and international bodies to coordinate any support to Lebanon on the basis of the economic reforms proposed by Beirut.
A team from the International Monetary Fund discussed all possible options in its recent meetings with Lebanese officials, who are seeking technical advice to tackle the crisis while Beirut is considering a plan to deal with near-term debt payments.
Le Meir said that there is an urgent need for the Lebanese government to take decisions to improve the situation on the ground.
"We want to move in the official forums and we think that the International Monetary Fund may have a role to play at some point, but it is up to the Lebanese government ... but if there is any need for assistance, in a bilateral or multilateral framework, we are ready to provide assistance," he added. .
Since the outbreak of the protests in October, the Lebanese currency has fallen by about 60 percent in the parallel market, dollars have become scarce, prices have risen and the country has lost thousands of jobs.
The government of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab took charge last month with the support of Hezbollah, the Shiite group backed by Iran and its allies, while Washington continues a policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran with wide-ranging sanctions.
"We know that there are links between the two issues, but we do not want to mix the issue of economic recovery in Lebanon, and today it is in a clear emergency, and the question of Iran," Le Mer said.