Lebanon government likely to approve budget by mid-March-finance minister

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil has said that Lebanon will not be able to ask international donors for support unless it first passes the 2018 budget. (Reuters)
Updated 02 March 2018
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Lebanon government likely to approve budget by mid-March-finance minister

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s 2018 budget will likely be approved by cabinet before mid-March, its finance minister said, as the heavily indebted country seeks to agree its spending plans before an April 6 economic conference in Paris.
The minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, has previously said Lebanon will not be able to ask international donors for support unless it first passes the 2018 budget to show backers that Beirut is serious about economic reform.
“Most probably the budget will be approved by the council of ministers before the middle of the month, and it will include reforms. Work is focused on reduced the deficit and approving a set of incentives to get the economy moving,” Khalil told Reuters.
Lebanon hopes to win billions of dollars of international investment at the Paris conference. It is seeking funding for a 10-year, $16 billion capital investment program aimed at lifting economic growth.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri had said the budget needed to be completed by March 5 before Lebanese politicians become preoccupied with preparations for a May 6 parliamentary election.
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 in February.
The IMF report said fiscal policy needed to be “immediately anchored in a consolidation plan that stabilizes debt as a share of GDP and then places it on a clear downward path.” It also said passing the 2018 budget and preparing for the Paris conference could provide opportunities to launch reforms.
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.


New designer’s ranges help lift sales at Burberry

A window of a Burberry store in central London, UK. The brand said new products accounted for about half the wares in its shops by the end of June. (Reuters)
Updated 17 July 2019
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New designer’s ranges help lift sales at Burberry

  • Fashion label more than a year into an overhaul to take it more upmarket

LONDON: British luxury brand Burberry reported a pick-up in first quarter sales after it began shifting more new designs by creative chief Riccardo Tisci into its stores as part of a turnaround plan.

The fashion label is more than a year into a high stakes overhaul by CEO Marco Gobbetti aimed at taking Burberry more upmarket  and reviving its image, including with edgier takes by Tisci on some of its classic products such as the trench coat.
The brand said new products had accounted for around half the wares on offer in its shops by the end of June, more than some analysts had expected.
This helped to lift same store sales by 4 percent — following lacklustre growth of 1 percent in the previous three months and topping market expectations of around 2 percent — and its gamble on a new designer appeared to be paying off for now.
“The consumer response was very promising, delivering strong growth in our new collections,” Gobbetti said in a statement.
Burberry has in recent quarters lagged the performance of luxury industry leaders like LVMH’s Louis Vuitton or Kering’s Gucci, which benefited from thriving demand in China in spite of US trade tensions.

FASTFACT

Thomas Burberry was just 21 years old when he established the company of the same name in 1856.

Those firms are due to post sales for the April to June quarter next week.
The pace of Burberry’s revenue growth within China and more broadly across Asia also improved slightly, despite slowing Chinese economic growth.
Its revamp has included rolling out a new logo-style print, or monogram, it hopes will catch on as it works on extending its reach in high-margin handbags; and it is redesigning stores as well as making a big marketing push with social media campaigns.
The company maintained its forecast for broadly stable revenue and operating margin at constant exchange rates for the 2020 financial year. Revenue and operating profit are not expected to pick up in a more meaningful way until 2021.