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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Top Lebanese finance ministry official resigns amid crisis

Lebanon's currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value against the dollar [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 June, 2020

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The finance ministry's director general said his resignation was a rejection of the ruling elite's handling of the ongoing economic crisis.
The director general of Lebanon's Finance Ministry and a member of the country's team negotiating with the International Monetary Fund resigned from his post on Monday amid a worsening economic and financial crisis, the ministry said. 

The one-sentence ministry statement gave no details about Alain Bifani's resignation other than to say that it was received by Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni. Bifani had held the post for 20 years.

The resignation came two weeks after Henri Chaoul, a financial adviser to the Lebanese government in the talks with the IMF, resigned, saying there is "no real will" for reforms in the country.

Lebanon, one of the most indebted countries in the world, recently defaulted on its debt an has been negotiating with the IMF for weeks with no breakthrough so far.

The small country is going through an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has seen the local currency lose more than 80 percent of its value against the US dollar in recent months amid soaring prices an popular unrest.

Last week, IMF's Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that discussions with the Lebanese side have so far not led to a breakthrough on an IMF financial assistance program.

"The core of the issue is whether there can be unity of purpose in the country that can then carry forward a set of very tough, but necessary measures," Georgieva said.

Despite the spiraling crisis that has significantly weakened Lebanon's government, it has not taken any concrete steps in fighting corruption or started the badly needed reforms that the IMF and donor countries are demanding to help get the country back on track.

Bifani told the local Al-Jadeed TV that his resignation is an expression of rejection to the way the ruling elite is dealing with the crisis. He added that the route taken in the country is "reckless" and this will badly hurt the public.

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