Protesters push carts loaded with food aid in Sidon, Lebanon, in December. With volunteer kitchens, makeshift clinics and donation centers, Lebanon's protesters are helping their compatriots survive the worst economic crisis since the civil war. Their efforts come amid warnings by the World Bank of an impending recession that may see the proportion of people living in poverty climb to half the population. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images)

Lebanon to Seek $4-5 Billion in Loans for Basic Goods

Lebanon’s new government will ask for $4-5 billion in soft loans from international donors to finance the purchase of wheat, fuel and medicines, according to local media reports, amid a crippling economic crisis. A “soft loan” is a loan – typically made to a developing country – that features very favorable terms to the borrower, such as a below-market interest rate and a long repayment period. “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,” Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni was quoted as saying by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star. “This injection will cover the country’s needs for one year and will also help reduce the run on the US dollar,” he added. In televised comments on Thursday, Wazni said: “The entire international community has its eye on what this government will do. What is its program, what are the reform steps, is it ready for support or no?” Lebanon won more than $11 billion in pledges of aid and low-interest loans for infrastructure investment at an international conference in 2018, conditional on reforms that it has so far failed to implement.

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