BEIRUT (Dispatches) –
Lebanon’s newly-formed government held its first meeting Monday to discuss ways of rescuing the country from one of its worst ever economic crises.
The meeting, during which a ministerial statement is to be drafted to be submitted to a confidence vote in parliament, opened in the presence of President Michel Aoun.
Aoun said in a statement he hoped the committee tasked with drafting the statement would include the pursuit of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
Talks with the IMF on financial assistance are key to rescuing Lebanon, which defaulted on its debt last year and has since been sliding into poverty.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who took office last week promising to revive IMF talks to unlock aid, said there was no time to lose and no easy path to tackle one of history’s worst economic meltdowns. He told the cabinet that it would take will, determination and a plan to achieve the hopes of the population.
“It is true that we don’t have a magic wand. The situation is very difficult,” he said, pledging to work hard to resolve shortages of fuel and medicine, supplies of which have dried up as the import-dependent nation’s hard currency reserves have run out.
Lebanese hope the new administration will finally find a path out of a crisis that has sunk the currency by some 90 percent since late 2019 and forced three quarters of the population into poverty.