Lebanon, IMF discuss all possible options for overcoming crisis – finance minister

BEIRUT, Feb 21 (Reuters) – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team discussed on Friday all possible options with Lebanese officials seeking technical advice for the country’s crippling financial crisis, a finance ministry statement said.

An IMF team is meeting with officials from heavily indebted Lebanon until Feb. 23 to offer broad advice on tackling the crisis as Beirut mulls a plan for dealing with fast-approaching debt payments, including a $1.2 billion Eurobond on March 9.

“All available data and possible options were discussed based on the delegation’s vision and its assessment of the situation in the country…to build a vision for how to overcome the current situation,” Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said in a statement.

Since protests erupted in October, Lebanon’s currency has slumped by roughly 60% on a parallel market, dollars have become scarce, prices have been hiked and thousands of jobs have been shed.

The government is expected on Friday to review proposals from companies bidding to provide financial and legal advice on options for a potential debt restructuring, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the IMF and Western and Sunni-led Gulf Arab states that helped in the past insist that Beirut must first implement long-delayed reforms on core issues such as state corruption and bad governance. (Reporting by Eric Knecht)

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