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IMF Coronavirus / India Budget / Lebanon

Release Date: 13 Feb 2020

The economic cost from the outbreak of coronavirus strain COVID-19 is still uncertain, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters Thursday in Washington, DC.

The IMF is looking at all the data available and hopes to have a more concrete sense of the ultimate impact to share with the G20 when it meets in Riyadh.

 “The uncertainty is too big to make any specific forecasts or projections. So the best we can do is try to look at various possible scenarios and how they play out. And that's what the managing director talked about yesterday. She talked about the V-shape scenario, which we again, we would all hope for. That's not a prediction. It's not a forecast. But we would hope for. Because that's the best that would be the best possible outcome in terms of the economics.”

India’s proposed budget’s "accommodative fiscal stance" is appropriate given the slowing economy but wants the government should continue to pursue medium-term reforms and fiscal consolidation because of growing debt levels, Rice said.

We think that given the weaker economic environment in India, which again, we've talked about recently, the environment is weaker than we had forecast earlier, that a more accommodative fiscal stance this year is appropriate. So that more accommodative fiscal stance in the budget we think is a is appropriate,” Rice said.

“That said, while the budget touches on ongoing sectoral efforts, there remains an urgent need for more ambitious structural and financial sector reform measures and a medium-term fiscal consolidation strategy anchored in tangible revenue and expenditure measures, especially given rising debt levels,” he added.

And Lebanese authorities have not requested financial assistance from the IMF, but the Fund stands ready to provide technical advice and expertise to help stabilize the country’s economy Rice said.

We are ready to help to offer advice, technical assistance at this stage. As those of you who followed the Fund know, we have various instruments to help countries, including financial assistance. But as I said, at this stage, what has been requested from the Lebanese authorities is our technical assistance and advice to help them with the reforms that they want to put in place to restore stability and growth.

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