June 9, 2020 / 5:08 PM / a month ago

Lebanon banking association criticises government stats given to IMF

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s banking association said on Tuesday that government figures being presented to the International Monetary Fund in talks for a reform programme do not form a “valid basis” for rescuing the economy.

Discrepancies between the government and the central bank on estimated financial sector losses have complicated the IMF talks, which began last month as the heavily indebted country looks to climb out of a deep economic crisis.

The banking association has strongly criticised Beirut’s rescue plan, which envisions using bank capital and deposits to cover tens of billions of dollars in losses, and has offered proposals of its own, which it says the government has ignored.

“The association is surprised by the government’s insistence on excluding the banking sector from financial talks that are supposed to lead to decisions with certain and profound implications for Lebanon’s economic future,” it said in a statement.

“The figures presented by the government to the International Monetary Fund... do not constitute, from our perspective, a valid basis for financial rescue,” it added.

The association urged the government to open a broader dialogue on the plan amid fears that the reform programme will entail painful haircuts on Lebanese deposits and taxes.

Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Gareth Jones

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