Beirut Brief: News from Mar. 29 – Apr. 4

This week, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said Lebanon will run out of funds to subsidise imported goods in May, the World Bank regional VP doesn't "see any glimmer of hope" for Lebanon's decision makers to "get their act together," and more.

  1. Germany proposes port reconstruction

Germany will send in a €2-3 billion dollar proposal to Lebanese authorities to rebuild the Beirut port with certain “strings attached,” sources told Reuters. The offer is part of a strategy to push Lebanese politicians to form a government capable of warding off financial collapse.

  1. Wazni calls for rationing

Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni called for the haste implementation of a delayed plan to scale down Lebanon’s list of subsidised goods from 300 to 100. “The cost of wasting time is very high,” said Wazni, warning that the country will run out of money to fund basic imports by the end of May.

  1. Oil for medical services

A new agreement between Lebanon and Iraq will swap the first’s medical and hospital expertise for the latter’s fuel supplies. Meanwhile, at least 1,000 doctors have emigrated from Lebanon because of the economic crisis, the head of the Order of Physicians told Al-Jadeed.

  1. No aid before change

“Lebanon needs to help itself, so that we can help it,” Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa vice president, told Bloomberg about the stagnating aid talks. Belhaj also said he doesn’t “see any glimmer of hope,” with his organization urging Lebanese politicians to implement real change and form a government to become eligible for aid.

  1. Geagea tests positive

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea tested positive for COVID-19, following a gathering at his Maraab headquarters. An LF statement said Geagea is experiencing mild symptoms and “doing very well,” with former Minister Ghassan Hasbani also testing positive after the same gathering.