An International Monetary Fund mission visited Lebanon September 10-18, 2009 to discuss developments through end-June 2009 under the authorities’ program supported by Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance (EPCA) and the outlook for 2009. The mission met with the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Banque du Liban (BdL), and other high-ranking officials. The mission is grateful for the open and constructive dialogue, the warm hospitality, and the excellent cooperation.
Despite its large vulnerabilities, Lebanon has so far weathered the global financial crisis and succeeded in maintaining financial stability, raising international reserves, and reducing public debt in 2008. The economy achieved record growth, and Eurobond spreads are now lower than the emerging market average. Fund engagement in Lebanon through the EPCA (which was broadly on track at end-December) has contributed to this performance. Lower global liquidity and the world economic downturn, particularly in the Gulf, will likely affect Lebanon in 2009, with lower growth and deposit inflows.
The agreement reached at Doha in May 2008 paved the way for the election of a new president and the formation of a new national unity government, which was sworn in on July 11, 2008. The government’s principal task is now to prepare for the legislative elections of May 2009. In parallel, the country’s main political forces have resumed their national dialogue under the auspices of President Suleiman, with a view to finding a solution to the contentious political issues that have fueled internal strife and dissent.