(Bloomberg) -- Lebanon is considering a plan to shore up its strained finances but it would not include debt restructuring or any reconsideration of the fixed exchange rate, according to the caretaker finance minister.
The recommendations may include debt rescheduling, as well as spending cuts and tax and electricity reforms, Ali Hasan Khalil said Friday in an emailed response to questions. If debt is to be rescheduled, it will only be carried out with the coordination of the central bank and local lenders, he said.
“There is no intention to restructure debt or touch the rights of holders of sovereign debt securities in any way,” Khalil said.
A newspaper report on Thursday cited Khalil as saying that the program would include debt restructuring, comments that sent Lebanese dollar plummeting. The country’s credit risk jumped to a record.
Eight months on from an election, Lebanon remains without a government and with billions of dollars in aid untapped as sectarian tensions fester. Political turmoil and sluggish economic growth are prompting questions over how long it can avoid a financial meltdown that would further destabilize an area rattled by war in Syria and tension between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon is one of the world’s most indebted countries, with the debt in 2018 amounting to 153 percent of gross domestic product.
Khalil’s assertions that there will be no debt restructuring echo comments from two ministers on Thursday. “Bondholders and depositors are extremely safe,” Caretaker Economy Minister Raed Khoury told Bloomberg.
Lebanon agreed to reduce its deficit by 1 percentage point annually for five years as one of the main conditions to unlock $11 billion in loans and grants offered at a 2018 donor conference.
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