IMF funds at the Bank of Lebanon have already melted
In Lebanon, the latest bulletin issued by the Central Bank on Monday confirms the decline in hard currency reserves and shows that Lebanon has spent almost all of the billion dollars allocated to it by the International Monetary Fund in September 2021. The balance sheet shows that the country, hit by a crisis unprecedented for almost four years, is not about to turn the corner.
The Central Bank of Lebanon building in Beirut, April 23, 2020. Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
By: RFI Follow
With our correspondent in Beirut, Paul Khalifeh
The Bank of Lebanon's bulletin indicates that only $76 million remains of the billion dollars allocated by the International Monetary Fund under Special Drawing Rights in 2021. This mechanism allows the international financial institution to release funds outside of any financial assistance programme to enable countries in difficulty to finance imports of basic necessities, such as medicine or food.
The figures released by the Bank of Lebanon also show the continued decline in hard currency reserves, which fell by $84 million in one month.
These reserves amount to $7.2 billion, mainly composed of deposit guarantees from commercial banks. But Riad Salamé's successor at the head of the Bank of Lebanon, Wassim Mansouri, has pledged not to spend this money.
All these figures show that the Central Bank's room for intervention to control the foreign exchange market and to finance government spending is increasingly limited.
The only good news is that Lebanon's gold reserves are estimated at $18 billion. However, this gold cannot be sold without a law passed in Parliament, which is very unlikely.
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