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The Politics of International Assistance in Lebanon: An Evaluation of the IMF's Loan Conditions as a Pathway to Inclusive Growth

14 August 2023

Balsam Gharib, Nikolay Mintchev, Mayssa Jallad and Mariam Daher

Four years into Lebanon’s crippling economic crisis and the country’s ruling political parties are yet to agree on a path towards financial and economic recovery. With declining support from international donors, Lebanon has sought an IMF loan in an attempt to partially cover the banking sector’s losses and boost local economic growth. Questions remain, however, about whether an IMF loan programme will help situate Lebanon on a pathway to prosperity in light of the country’s history of elite wealth capture and dependence on international aid. Based on a qualitative assessment of the conditions set forth by the IMF through its Staff-Level Agreement (SLA) with the Lebanese government in 2022, the article argues that although the IMF has recently made significant commitments to promoting inclusive growth, its approach in the SLA still leaves ample possibilities for ruling political parties to exploit a future loan at the expense of the public. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for amendments to the IMF’s conditioned reforms to ensure that the IMF loan, if granted, will secure greater protection for members of the public, rather than becoming a tool for advancing the interests of Lebanon’s political and economic elites.

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