Lebanon’s PM vows push to finish 2018 budget

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said: ‘The country needs reforms, the budgets of ministries should be reduced and we have to send real positive signs to the states participating in the forthcoming international conferences.’ (AP Photo)
Updated 26 February 2018
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Lebanon’s PM vows push to finish 2018 budget

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri vowed on Monday to hold intensive meetings to complete the 2018 budget in line with a March 5 deadline set by the parliament speaker.
The finance minister has said Lebanon will not be able to ask international donors for support at forthcoming conferences unless it first passes the 2018 budget to show backers that Beirut is serious about reforming the heavily indebted state.
“The country needs reforms, the budgets of ministries should be reduced and we have to send real positive signs to the states participating in the forthcoming international conferences,” Hariri said in a statement from his press office on Monday.
Lebanon hopes to win billions of dollars of international investment at a Paris conference due to take place on April 6. It is seeking funding for a 10-year $16 billion capital investment program aimed at lifting economic growth.
Lebanon’s public debt was estimated above 150 percent of GDP at the end of 2017, and is expected to rise rapidly with a budget deficit above 10 percent over the forecast horizon, the International Monetary Fund said this month.
The country has one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and its economic growth is very weak, battered by domestic tensions and conflict in neighboring Syria. Political deadlock had left it without a government budget from 2005 until it agreed one last year.
The IMF report said passing the 2018 budget and preparing for the Paris conference could provide opportunities to launch much-needed reforms.
Hariri said: “We will hold consecutive sessions to finish it before the date set by Speaker Nabih Berri on March 5, because everyone will be busy afterwards to prepare for the parliamentary elections.”
Parliamentary elections are due to take place on May 6.


Boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon, most rescued

Updated 22 September 2018
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Boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon, most rescued

  • The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus
  • Most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned

BEIRUT: A boat with around three dozen Syrian refugees on board sank off the coast of Lebanon on Saturday and most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned, security sources said.
The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus, some 180 km (110 miles) away, when it foundered off the coast of northern Lebanon, the sources said. Three more of the people on boat were in a serious condition in hospital.
Lebanon is hosting around 1 million registered refugees from Syria’s civil war, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The Lebanese government puts the figure at around 1.5 million.