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Brunei
Monday, November 28, 2022
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Monday, November 28, 2022
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    Lebanon approves some banking law changes demanded by IMF

    BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanon’s Parliament late Tuesday approved some amendments to a banking secrecy law that has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before it agrees to a bailout programme amid the country’s economic meltdown.

    Despite the changes, legal advocacy groups said the alterations to the law will likely not be enough to please the IMF because it restricts moves to lift banking secrecy provisions to judicial authorities. The decades-old law is seen by many as a way to hide the widespread corruption that brought the small nation to bankruptcy over the past three years.

    “We agreed on a law to lift banking secrecy with some amendments where we widely expanded the number of groups that can ask to lift banking secrecy,” Head of Parliament’s finance and budget committee Ibrahim Kanaan said in a tweet.

    “Negotiations with the IMF have not stopped, and we have been in constant communication in the past days and hours so there won’t be flaws in the agreement that Lebanon aspires to.” Among the amendments is the authority to lift banking secrecy off accounts retroactively to 1988. Kanaan told local television station Al-Jadeed that some proposed amendments in line with the IMF’s critiques were voted out of the legislation during Tuesday’s session.

    Since Lebanon’s economic slide began in late 2019, three-quarters of the population of six million people, including one million Syrian refugees, plunged into poverty. The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value. The international community has been demanding major reforms in order to help the corruption-plagued nation.

    Talks between Lebanon’s government and the IMF began in May 2020 and reached a staff-level agreement in April. The Lebanese government has implemented few of the IMF’s demands from the agreement, which are mandatory before finalising a bailout programme.

    Among them are restructuring Lebanon’s ailing financial sector, implementing fiscal reforms, restructuring external public debt and putting in place strong anti-corruption and anti-money laundering measures.

    Lebanese lawmakers and some ministers including Prime Minister Najib Mikati headed by the Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri attend a Parliament session, in Beirut, Lebanon. PHOTO: AP
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