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Lebanon seeking $4 to $5B in loans for wheat, fuel, medicine

18 February 20202 min reading

Lebanon's new government is looking to secure $4-5bn in soft loans from international donors to finance purchases of wheat, fuel and medicines.

Lebanon is looking to secure $4 billion to $5 billion in soft loans from international donors to finance purchases of wheat, fuel and medicines, Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star cited Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni as saying. Lebanon formed a new cabinet in January following three months of political deadlock after the cabinet of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned amid unprecedented nationwide protests against the country's rapidly deteriorating economy.

"We will ask the international donors to provide Lebanon with $4 billion to $5 billion in soft loans to finance the purchasing of wheat, fuel oil and pharmaceuticals," said Wazni. "This injection will cover the country's needs for one year and will also help reduce the run on the US dollar," he added. Since October, protesters have been calling for sweeping reforms and a government that is led by independent technocrats and that can deal with the crippling economic crisis and widespread corruption. In the last few months, the country's local currency, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, dwindled. The Lebanese pound lost more than 60 percent of its value in recent weeks on the black market.

Lebanon’s domestic cereal production covers, on average, less than 20 percent of the consumption needs and the country depends heavily on imports. In the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirements, mainly wheat for human consumption and maize to feed livestock and poultry, are forecast at an average level of 2 million tonnes, similar to the previous year. The current import requirement is almost double of the quantities imported before the onset of the Syrian crisis in 2011 that led to increased numbers of refugees in the region. Wheat is sourced mostly from the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

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