Support group for Lebanon urges reforms

The ISG has recognized the need for the adoption of a substantial, credible, and comprehensive policy package of economic reforms to address infrastructural deficiencies in the Lebanese economy.
by Christina Farhat

11 December 2019 | 14:02

Source: by Annahar

  • by Christina Farhat
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 11 December 2019 | 14:02

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Elysee Presidential Palace on November 18, 2017. (AFP)

BEIRUT: The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) urged Lebanese officials to implement the necessary reforms and reiterated its willingness to assist in ensuring Lebanon’s access to basic goods, as the small Mediterranean country grapples with its biggest crisis since the civil war.

The meeting of the ISG for Lebanon, chaired jointly by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and France, is being held in Paris Wednesday, December 11th. Officials from Saudi Arabia, China, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and the United Kingdom are attending the meeting.

According to a draft of the final statement that will be issued later Wednesday, the members of the International Support Group for Lebanon acknowledge that the current crisis puts the country at risk of increased instability and a chaotic unreeling of its economy.

The ISG urged Lebanon to adopt a substantial, credible, and comprehensive policy package of economic reforms to address infrastructural deficiencies in the Lebanese economy and reinstate financial stability, noting that these measures are necessary to answer the grievances expressed by the Lebanese people.

“The members of the ISG acknowledge that Lebanon faces a crisis which puts the country at risk of a chaotic unwinding of its economy and of increased instability,” the ISG's draft statement reads.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister said Lebanon’s stability was “very, very important” to the kingdom.

Lebanon, a country that’s no stranger to political impasse, has been left in the hands of a caretaker government since the resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Thus, maximum pressure has been placed on Lebanon’s different stakeholders to form a new government which would, in turn, pass the 2020 budget in a timely manner, slightly relieving pressure off of the financial sector.

“The ISG urge the Lebanese authorities to take decisive action to restore the stability of the financial sector, to tackle corruption (including adoption of the anti-corruption law and judicial reform), to implement the electricity reform plan including governance-enhancing mechanism (through an independent regulatory body), and to markedly improve governance and the business environment, through the passing of procurement laws," the draft statement reads.

The ISG also reasserted that what was agreed upon at the CEDRE conference still holds and that the Lebanese authorities should continue to commit to implementing different aspects of the agreed-upon capital investment plan in the goal of implementing long-lasting economic reform.

"The ISG members consider that the support from international financial institutions is pivotal to help the authorities sustain their efforts to implement the necessary economic reforms over time. The members of the ISG recall their willingness to support the implementation of such a set of actions, including through assistance to ensure Lebanon’s access to basic goods. They encourage the authorities to seek support from all their development partners, including international financial institutions."

The ISG also commended the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces for their work in protecting the rights of their citizens.

“The members of the ISG reiterate that the right to peaceful protest must be respected and call on all sides to act responsibly,” the draft ISG statement said.

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