Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, the head of the IMF’s mission in Lebanon, said on Thursday that progress towards finalizing a bailout package has stalled, AP reports. Since reaching a preliminary agreement last year, Lebanon has failed to make progress on key reforms, such as restructuring its debts and easing capital and currency controls, putting it at risk of hyperinflation.
Lebanon’s currency is officially valued at 15,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, but is currently trading at more than 100,000 to the dollar on the black market, which in Lebanon accounts for nearly all transactions. Protests erupted this week in Beirut as the pound hit a new low and inflation hit a new triple-digit-high, further destabilizing the country’s already precarious security situation, Al Jazeera reports.
Since 2019, Lebanon’s economy has fallen into a severe crisis, with the pound losing some 98% of its value and three-quarters of the population falling below the poverty line.