BEIRUT: In the wake of a viral recording in which an alleged International Monetary Fund (IMF) expert highlights his lack of trust in Lebanon's government and its ability to properly manage the upcoming 'Cedre' donor conference in Paris, the IMF released Tuesday a statement categorically denying any association with "Mohamad Zeidan."
The five-minute audio released as a video showing a blank screen with the words "an expert of the International Monetary Fund exposes the level of corruption and lack of performance of the existing Lebanese government and political establishment" began to circulate on Saturday, March 31.
The IMF was quick to distance themselves from Zeidan, telling Annahar that "he does not represent the IMF and we are not aware he has any connection with the IMF in any capacity."
The statement did not mention who Mohamad Zeidan was or where the audio was recorded.
During the five-minute recording, an individual identified by the IMF as Mohamad Zeidan signals that "Lebanon's level of corruption can only be compared to that of Botswana," a landlocked country located in Southern Africa.
He then claims that "the IMF has continuously put forth recommendations for the Lebanese government to decrease their debt," before blatantly telling those gathered that Lebanon has "a cancer which is a lack of governance."
The video sparked panic among concerned Lebanese who are wary of the country's economic struggles amid uncertain times.
The country’s debt has risen to an all-time high, with experts warning of an impending Greece-like crisis.
Last week, Parliament ratified the 2018 state budget despite the fact that the previous years' accounts have yet to be audited as top officials gear up to travel to Paris on April 6.
While in Paris, Lebanese officials will seek to raise over 16 billion dollars for a 12-year investment program as Lebanon’s economy continues to reel under the burden of over 1.5 million refugees.
Lebanon's economic struggles have re-entered the spotlight in recent weeks after it became the world's third most-indebted country, further hindered by the government's revenue failing to keep pace with spending.
Addressing the country's unbridled plight with corruption, which has bled the state's coffers, Hariri vowed to "hold those accountable," before telling MPs that "no name has been put forth."
Lebanon continued to slip down Transparency International's corruption ranking this year, coming in at 143rd of 180 countries, reflecting the increasingly dire state of the economy and declining governance.
Yet the IMF portrayed an optimistic viewpoint, with their spokesperson Alistair Thomson telling Annahar that "Lebanon can create jobs, improve its growth prospects and improve its debt position if it implements the Capital Investment Plan together with decisive fiscal adjustment and structural reform.“
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