Lebanon to resume IMF talks, begin reforms, draft policy statement says

New Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government will also resume negotiations with creditors over a restructuring of public debt on which Lebanon defaulted last year. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 September 2021

Lebanon to resume IMF talks, begin reforms, draft policy statement says

  • New government will also resume negotiations with creditors over a restructuring of public debt
  • The draft said the government was committed to resuming talks with the IMF for a short- and medium-term support plan

BEIRUT: The Lebanese government will resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund while beginning reforms demanded by donors, according to a draft policy program that aims to tackle one of the worst financial meltdowns in history.
New Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government will also resume negotiations with creditors over a restructuring of public debt on which Lebanon defaulted last year, the draft seen by Reuters on Wednesday said.
The government was agreed on Friday after more than a year of political conflict over seats in cabinet that left the country rudderless as more than three-quarters of the population fell into poverty and shortages crippled normal life.
The cabinet is due to meet on Thursday to approve the draft, which will then go to a vote of confidence in parliament.
Underscoring the gravity of the situation, the policy program was drawn up in a matter of days, much faster than the weeks the process has taken in the past.
The draft said the government was committed to resuming talks with the IMF for a short- and medium-term support plan.
Donors want to see Lebanon enact reforms, including measures to tackle the corruption and graft that led to the economic collapse, before they will unlock billions of dollars of assistance already earmarked for the country.
Talks with the IMF broke down last summer when Lebanon’s political elite and banking sector objected to the scale of financial losses set out in a recovery plan drawn up by the previous government.
The draft program said the Mikati government would renew and develop the previous financial recovery plan, which set out a shortfall in the financial system of some $90 billion — a figure endorsed by the IMF.
The government will also draw up a plan to “correct the situation of (the) banking sector,” which has been paralyzed since late 2019, the draft said.
Lebanon’s financial system unraveled in late 2019.
The root cause was decades of profligate spending by the state and the unsustainable way in which it was financed.
As dollars dried up, depositors were frozen out of their accounts. The value of hard currency savings has plummeted by up to 80 percent since then, with the Lebanese pound collapsing by 90 percent from a peg that had existed for more than two decades.
The program draft said the government was committed to all the articles set out in a reform initiative drawn up by France, which has been at the forefront of efforts to help Lebanon.
The government will work with parliament to pass a capital control law, the draft document said.
It also said parliamentary elections due next spring would be held on time.

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Italy asks Pakistan to extradite parents of teen murdered in arranged marriage row

Updated 35 min 22 sec ago

Italy asks Pakistan to extradite parents of teen murdered in arranged marriage row

  • Announcement came after news Wednesday the uncle of 18-year-old Saman Abbas was arrested in Paris
  • Case has sparked outrage in Italy and been front page news since police began investigating teen's disappearance in May

ROME: Italy said Thursday it had asked Pakistan to extradite the parents of a teenage girl suspected of having been murdered by her family after refusing an arranged marriage. 
The announcement came after news Wednesday that the uncle of 18-year-old Saman Abbas had been arrested in Paris, accused of her murder alongside her parents and two of her cousins. 
The case has sparked outrage in Italy and has become front page news since police began investigating the teenager’s disappearance in May. Her body has yet to be found. 
“Justice Minister Marta Cartabia... has signed and sent to Pakistan the two extradition requests for the parents of Saman Abbas, who are under investigation for the murder of their daughter,” the justice ministry said Thursday. 
Prosecutors had on Wednesday announced the arrest on a European warrant of the teenager’s uncle on the outskirts of Paris. 
Saman Abbas, who lived in the northern Italian town of Novellara, last year refused her family’s plan to have her marry a cousin in their home country of Pakistan. 
While still a minor, she turned to social services and in November was moved into a shelter home. She also reported her parents to police, but on April 11 returned to them. 
Police began searching for her on May 5, when officers visited her house and found nobody. 
Officers then discovered that the girl’s parents had left for Pakistan without her, and found images from a nearby security camera that made them fear the worst.
Late on April 29, five people could be seen walking off from the house holding shovels, a crowbar and a bucket, and returning after about two-and-a-half hours.
One cousin accused in the case is currently in jail in Italy. 


Indian Premier League: Delhi Capitals beat coronavirus-hit Sunrisers Hyderabad by 8 wickets

Updated 48 min 59 sec ago

Indian Premier League: Delhi Capitals beat coronavirus-hit Sunrisers Hyderabad by 8 wickets

  • Hyderabad fast bowler Thangarasu Natarajan tested positive for COVID-19 and was put in isolation hours before the game
DUBAI: Delhi Capitals notched their seventh win in the Indian Premier League with a thumping eight-wicket victory over virus-hit Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Hyderabad fast bowler Thangarasu Natarajan tested positive for COVID-19 and was put in isolation hours before the game. The team was also without all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who also went into isolation after being identified as a close contact of Natarajan.
Without two key players, Hyderabad was limited to 134-9 by Delhi’s seamers and spinners.
Shreyas Iyer (47 not out) and captain Rishabh Pant (35 not out) led the run-chase with a clinical unbroken 67-run stand as Delhi went atop the leaderboard with 14 points by reaching 139-2 in 17.5 overs.
“Our bowlers did a pretty good job to restrict them,” Pant said. “We have one of the quickest bowlers in the world (and) pretty happy as the skipper.”
Shreyas raised the victory by hammering West Indies fast bowler Jason Holder to long-on boundary for six to hand Hyderabad its seventh loss in the tournament.
Shikhar Dhawan, who was left out by India for next month’s Twenty20 World Cup, continued his rich form in this season’s IPL by scoring 42 off 37 balls before Shreyas and Pant combined in a 42-ball stand and led the chase.
Earlier, Hyderabad struggled to put up partnerships after it won the toss and opted to bat. David Warner fell to Anrich Nortje (2-12) in the first over without scoring as the South African paceman didn’t allow the top order to score freely off his four overs.
Captain Kane Williamson (18) couldn’t capitalize on two dropped catches before finally holing out in the deep halfway into the innings off left-arm spinner Axar Patel (2-21).
Kagiso Rabada (3-37), who earlier had removed Wriddhiman Saha inside the batting powerplay, restricted Hyderabad to a below-par total with the wickets of Manish Pandey (17) and Abdul Samad (28).
“Didn’t get off to the start we would have liked,” Williamson said. “They put us under pressure and that is what you expect … for us, it is focusing on our cricket and trying to improve.”

China asks Pakistan to improve security of its workers as ‘precondition’ for CPEC progress

Updated 4 min 11 sec ago

China asks Pakistan to improve security of its workers as ‘precondition’ for CPEC progress

  • Demand came during meeting of CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee, held after two-year hiatus
  • At least nine Chinese nationals have been killed in recent attacks in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: China on Thursday asked Islamabad to improve security conditions for its workers in Pakistan as a “precondition” for progress on the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects. 
The demand came during a meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), the apex decision-making body for the economic corridor projects.
The meeting, held after a hiatus of almost two years, was co-chaired by Pakistan’s Planning Minister Asad Umar and Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) deputy chief Ning Jizhe. 
“Recently, we have seen the unfortunate increase in tragic incidents happening to Chinese people and Chinese companies in Pakistan,” Ning said. 
“We hope that Pakistan will take effective measures to strengthen protection of Chinese people and Chinese employees in Pakistan so they can work in [a] safe environment.” 

Pakistani government offiicials attend the meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) held in Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy: CPEC Authority) 

Last month, a suicide bomb attack on a motorcade carrying Chinese personnel injured one Chinese national and killed two local children in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province. The incident took place on the East Bay Expressway in the port city of Gwadar, which lies at the heart of CPEC. 
The Gwadar attack followed the 14 July bombing that killed nine Chinese nationals among 13 people, who were en route to a dam construction site in northern Pakistan. 
Planning Minister Umar noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself led security reviews after the recent attacks targeting Chinese nationals in Pakistan. 
“[An] expanded security system has been designed, it has been shared with the Chinese,” Umar said at Thursday’s meeting, adding that he was confident of a secure environment for workers on the joint projects. 
CPEC has seen Beijing pledge over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan, central to China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to develop land and sea trade routes in Asia and beyond. 
Umar said the Pakistani government was fully committed to CPEC and considered it critical for the country’s growth and development. 
In a Twitter post earlier, he expressed hopes that the “JCC will lay the foundation for further acceleration and broadening of CPEC.” 

 


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September 23: The Nation reported that Pakistan yesterday urged the world to avert humanitarian and economic crises in Afghanistan.

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