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Report: Debt-laden Lebanon needs $25B bailout, says former economy minister

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Report: Debt-laden Lebanon needs $25B bailout, says former economy minister

Lebanon needs a rescue package worth $20 billion to $25 billion to recover from a financial crisis, Reuters reported Jan. 3, citing Nasser Saidi, the country's former economy minister.

Lebanon is reportedly on the verge of defaulting on its debts, with a $1.2 billion eurobond due in March, as the country's politicians have failed to arrange a rescue plan since former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's resignation in October 2019.

The report noted that a new government, to be led by incoming Prime Minister Hassan Diab, may struggle to draw international support, as Diab is backed by political and militant group Hezbollah.

Saidi told Reuters that $11 billion in support previously pledged by foreign donors is now about half of what Lebanon needs to avert an economic collapse, which may cut the country's 2020 GDP by 10%.

A bailout package of up to $25 billion would allow Lebanon to guarantee partial payment of public debt and enable the country to restructure in a way that would extend maturities and slash interest rates, the report said.

The package would need support from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, as well as countries in the West and the Gulf region, Saidi said in the report.