Nov 16 2020 - 10:55

Wazni warns of 'the end' of the country-The National

Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told The National Lebanon, news ,lbci ,أخبار Crisis, Finance, Economy, Lebanon,Wazni,Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told The National
Wazni warns of 'the end' of the country-The National
Lebanon News
Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told The National that if the country’s political class continued “to push back reforms that are crucial to unlocking foreign aid it would signal the end of Lebanon.”
“Following this policy of slowness means death for the [Lebanese] people. It would really be the end,” he added.
Wazni also said he backed the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron, who pledged international financial support to Lebanon in exchange for anti-corruption reforms. Politicians have yet to fully introduce any of them.
“President Macron said 'we’ll give you some oxygen, we’ll help you to get out of the crisis', otherwise the economic and social situation will worsen. The impact will be on the security, stability and future of the country,” Wazni said.
The latest resistance to reforms comes from the central bank, after Wazni signed contracts with three international audit companies to investigate the bank’s finances on August 31.
“We must not forget that we are going through a banking crisis and that people cannot recuperate their deposits. It’s very important to know where the money went. Secondly, the audit will reveal the real losses of the central bank and the banking sector,” he told The National.
Quantifying those losses will allow decision-makers to take action, said Wazni.
But the central bank argued that most of the information requested by the company in charge of the forensic audit was covered by Lebanon’s 1956 banking secrecy law.
But Wazni still gave the central bank a three-month extension on November 5 to find the required documents.
“Thirdly, in case we don’t get all the required information to start the audit, we could start working on a draft law to amend the current law.”
Wazni said he was aware that nearly one year after it was sworn in, the government has achieved little to improve the lives of the Lebanese.
He blamed it mostly on the several crises facing the country this year, as well as the country’s twin deficit.
“Trust in the banking sector was lost. This is a first in Lebanon’s existence. We must remember that even during the 1975-1990 civil war, banks continued functioning normally,” he said.
“Today, people’s money is blocked, and financial transactions abroad are suspended. The entire sector is paralyzed.”
The coronavirus pandemic and the explosion at the port dealt the final blow to Mr Diab’s Cabinet.
“The government was not able to do everything because of the obstacles it faced, but it managed to put the country on the right track. Our approach, including negotiations with the IMF, was the right one,” concluded Wazni.
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