For the first time ever Lebanon defaulted on its public debt this week, failing to make a $1.2bn Eurobond payment. Whilst hardly a surprise given the country’s ongoing economic crisis (MEES, 28 February), the default arguably signals the next phase of the country’s economic crisis as it now looks to draft a long-term economic recovery package. Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni says the country’s plan will meet IMF recommendations, adding that Lebanon is in need of $25-30bn in financial assistance over the next five years to get out of the crisis.
But with Hezbollah reportedly against IMF involvement and the Washington-based development bank repeating on 12 March that the Lebanese government has not approached them about anything more than “technical assistance”, it is unclear whether the IMF will come onboard to overhaul the economy. The status quo is clearly unsustainable: Lebanon has other bonds set to mature in the next two years and will find it impossible to borrow money to finance its deficit. (CONTINUED - 165 WORDS)