Lebanon: Banking Association to Continue Talks with Finance Ministry

Lebanon: Banking Association to Continue Talks with Finance Ministry

Lebanon’s Banking Association will continue talks with the Finance Ministry and the government’s adviser, Lazard, to reach an agreement on the country’s financial recovery plan, ABL sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Talks with the government or the Finance Ministry would not be boycotted. Until now, doors of negotiations are open to finding the suitable solutions that please the two sides,” the sources said.

The remarks were in response to media reports that the banking association could pull out of talks with the ministry and Lazard.

Head of ABL Salim Sfeir accused politicians of seeking to throw the responsibility of Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis on banks.

In an online videoconference with the American Task Force for Lebanon, Sfeir rejected any haircut on bank deposits.

He discussed the alternative economic rescue plan that the Banking Association had proposed to exit the current crisis, stressing that any default on internal debt would threaten depositor’s savings.

Sfeir said Lebanon’s debt default in March was not necessary.

“Lebanese banks have proven to be immune to wars and successive political crises over the past years,” he said.

The head of the ABL also revealed that total bank deposits declined from $173 billion in September 2019 to $150 billion until July this year, which he considered a minor drop.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab chaired Friday a financial coordination meeting attended by financial advisors and representatives of ABL to discuss the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

A technical meeting was held between the Global Sovereign Advisory (GSA), which is advising ABL on debt restructuring negotiations with the government, and Lazard in Paris with an aim to reach an agreement over a financial recovery plan.

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