IMF ready to help Lebanon but needs partner in govt . “It takes two to tango”

File photo: IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva

By Andrea Shalal

File photo: IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva

WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund is willing to work with Lebanon to solve its financial problems and restructure its debt, but needs a partner in the Lebanese government, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday.

Speaking with CNN during the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, Georgieva said ongoing fragmentation was holding Lebanon back and preventing progress on an economic plan to lift the country out of financial crisis.

“It takes two to tango,” Georgieva said. “We’re ready and very willing to help Lebanon; we need a partner.”

Lebanon’s talks with the IMF stalled this year over a row among Lebanese government officials, bankers and political parties over vast financial losses.

Lebanon urgently needs foreign cash to deal with its first financial crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

After a massive explosion at Beirut’s port in August killed nearly 200 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage, former colonial power France stepped in with a roadmap toward financial aid, but Lebanese leaders have failed to agree on the first step – setting up a new government.

Georgieva said it was sad to see the Lebanese people in such a dire situation due to the lack of political determination.

“We are ready, day and night, if we get the call that there is a government willing and able to engage with the IMF. We know what needs to be done,” she said.

She said the country needed to get its financial system in shape, audit the books of the financial institutions, and put forward a credible economic plan for investors.

“The country is fragmented, and that fragmentation is holding Lebanon back, it is actually dragging it down,” she said, adding that an exodus of young Lebanese posed additional dangers for the Middle Eastern country.