New Lebanon government looking for $5 billion in loans

Thursday 23rd January, 2020
Ghazi Wazn

Accra, Jan. 23, (UPI/GNA) - Lebanon's new Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said Wednesday he is looking for up to $5 billion in soft loans to purchase wheat, medicine and fuel.

The former defense minister said the loans are among his top priorities since taking over the post.

Lebanon asked for foreign assistance in December but was rejected pending reforms and the formation of the government. Prime Minister Hassan Diab formed Lebanon's new government on Tuesday.

"The economic, financial and monetary situation is very difficult," Wanzi said. "There is a lot of pressure on the whole government to convince both the uprising in the interior and foreign donors of the reform program it will put forward to rescue the country."

Persistent protests in Lebanon led its economy to fall toward the end of 2019. The protest led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his cabinet. That administration was accused of large-scale corruption.

The new government currently has the support of the majority Shia groups Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Christian Free Patriotic Movement. Critics have warned that the presence of Iran-backed Hezbollah, which opposes Israel, could lead to the government's rejection by the West.

Lebanon has struggled to service its current debt because of its shrinking foreign currency reserves.