Hezbollah says it opposes IMF management of Lebanon crisis

(Reuters)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Hezbollah says it opposes IMF management of Lebanon crisis

  • Iran-backed group's opposition to IMF makes managing Lebanon's situation "very, very difficult"
  • Lebanon's financial crisis continues to deepen, exacerbated by civil protests

BEIRUT/LONDON: Hezbollah is against allowing the International Monetary Fund to manage Lebanon’s financial crisis, the powerful group said on Tuesday, indicating opposition to any IMF bailout that would impose tough conditions on the heavily indebted state.
Hezbollah, backed by Iran and designated as a terrorist group by the United States, is one of the main parties that backs the new Beirut government as it struggles with the unprecedented crisis.
Facing a huge public debt burden and a liquidity crunch, the government on Tuesday appointed international investment firm Lazard and law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP as its financial and legal advisers on a widely expected sovereign debt restructuring.
Beirut has sought IMF technical but not financial aid.
“We will not accept submitting to (imperialist) tools ... meaning we do not accept submitting to the International Monetary Fund to manage the crisis,” said Hezbollah’s Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of the heavily armed Shiite group.
“Yes, there is nothing to prevent consultations ... and this is what the Lebanese government is doing.”
An IMF technical team visited Beirut from Feb. 20-24. “The discussions on the challenges and the authorities’ plans to address them were very informative and productive,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.
“Staff is available to provide further technical advice to the government as it formulates its economic reform plans.”
The crisis came to a head last year as capital inflows slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite over corruption and bad governance — root causes of the crisis.
Banks are imposing tight restrictions on access to deposits and transfers. The Lebanese pound has slumped: dollars were being offered at 2,470 pounds on Tuesday, a dealer said. The official rate is 1,507.5.
“Hezbollah is very adamantly opposed to the IMF and that makes it very, very difficult and means Lebanon will have to get to a point where the situation is bad for longer,” said Steffen Reichold, portfolio manager at ‎Stone Harbor Investment Partners, which holds some Lebanese Eurobonds.
“That could mean the exchange rate getting to 3,000 and significantly more inflation.”
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday his government was looking at options to help Lebanon recover, including an IMF program if Beirut seeks one.
Foreign states which have backed Lebanon in the past want to see implementation of long-delayed reforms before any assistance is forthcoming this time.
Some of Lebanon’s Eurobonds intensified their sell-off.
The government must urgently decide how to handle a $1.2 billion Eurobond maturing on March 9.
“It’s pretty likely they will go down the debt restructuring route and the question then becomes will the March 2020 bonds be brought in to that,” said Nick Eisinger, principal, fixed income emerging markets, at Vanguard.
“I think the market will not be particularly happy that the IMF will not be coming on board with a financial program as without that the recovery prospects and long-term recovery of the country are not good,” he said. 


Dubai Metro line extension will open to public in September

Updated 09 July 2020

Dubai Metro line extension will open to public in September

  • The $2.9 billion project, called Metro Route 2020, adds seven stations to the city’s Red Line
  • The new stations will serve communities in the southern part of Dubai

DUBAI: The Dubai Metro line’s 15-kilometer route extension was inaugurated on Wednesday and will be open to the public in September.

The $2.9 billion project, called Metro Route 2020, adds seven stations to the city’s Red Line, including one for the Expo 2020 site.

“The project offers safe and smooth transport for Expo visitors and residents of Dubai communities,” a statement carried by state-run WAM said.

The expansion comes as part of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority’s masterplan to provide an integrated mass transit system comprising the metro, tram, buses and marine transport.

The new stations will serve communities in the southern part of Dubai, including The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Al Furjan, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Investment Park.