Lebanon Central Bank head says expects economy to grow 2% in 2018

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Updated 12 July 2018
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Lebanon Central Bank head says expects economy to grow 2% in 2018

BEIRUT: Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday he expects the economy to grow by 2 percent and for inflation to be 4-5 percent in 2018.
Speaking at an economic conference in Beirut, Salameh said the estimates were made in the light of a slowdown in the real estate sector and stable consumption.
Lebanon has been suffering weak growth since 2011, hit by regional turmoil. The IMF has estimated growth rates of 1-1.5 percent in 2017 and 2018, saying traditional drivers of the economy - construction and real estate - remain subdued.
The IMF has also called for "an immediate and substantial" fiscal adjustment to improve the sustainability of public debt, which stood at more than 150 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2017.
Salameh said he expects bank lending to decrease by 1.6 percent in 2018 compared to last year and, based on data from the first five months of this year, for bank deposits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.
Lebanon's economy relies on the confidence of millions of expatriate Lebanese who deposit money into local banks. The banks buy government debt, which finances the expanding budget deficit and debt.
Foreign deposit inflows into the banking system have slowed since 2011. The IMF says private sector deposits grew 3.8 percent last year - below the average for recent years.


Lufthansa to start flights to Israeli Red Sea resort Eilat

Updated 12 min 56 sec ago
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Lufthansa to start flights to Israeli Red Sea resort Eilat

  • More than 175,000 foreign tourists flew into Ovda in the first five months of 2018
  • Lufthansa said it would fly to Ovda from Frankfurt and Munich twice weekly starting Oct. 28

JERUSALEM: Lufthansa said on Wednesday it will launch four weekly flights to Eilat, the Red Sea resort which Israel hopes to turn into a winter vacation spot for foreign tourists.
More than 175,000 foreign tourists flew into Ovda, a converted military airfield 60 km (40 miles) from Eilat, in the first five months of 2018, double the amount for all of 2017.
Helping spur growth is a government grant of 60 euros ($70) per passenger for airlines starting routes to Eilat.
Lufthansa said it would fly to Ovda from Frankfurt and Munich twice weekly starting Oct. 28.
Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, borders Jordan and Egypt. It will later be served by the new Ramon International Airport which is expected to open in early 2019.
Since 2015, a number of airlines, mainly low-cost, have been operating direct flights to Ovda, led by Ryanair and WizzAir.
“The number of flights to the city has increased from four weekly flights to more than 60 weekly flights,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
The Tourism Ministry has a budget of 30 million shekels ($8.25 million) a year for subsidising flights to Ovda.
“We are willing to pay more,” Levin said, adding the ministry is also in talks with British Airways. The airline declined to comment.
International tourist arrivals in Israel hit a record 3.6 million last year, pumping $5.5 billion into the economy.