Lebanon needs political action to avoid economic collapse -finance minister

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil made the remarks following a meeting with the government’s economic and social council. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Lebanon needs political action to avoid economic collapse -finance minister

BEIRUT: Politicians in Lebanon, still lacking a government four months after national elections, need to take action to stop the country’s economic crisis becoming an economic collapse, its finance minister said on Wednesday.
Infighting has hampered efforts by Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a national unity administration, leaving a political vacuum that has increased concerns for the highly-indebted economy.
“We are not concealing this crisis, but will this crisis inevitably lead us to a collapse? ... I say that with strong political commitment, political will and cooperation between all sectors we can avoid it,” caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.
His comments, which followed a meeting with the government’s economic and social council, were televised. Asked by Reuters what he meant by collapse, he replied “the economic situation.”
Leaders from across the political spectrum agree a government urgently needs to be formed, but a deal remains elusive.
Its formation would be likely to help raise investor confidence in the country, unlock billions of dollars in donor funding and enable parliament to embark on long-overdue reforms.
In April, international donors meeting in Paris pledged more than $11 billion of investment, but they want evidence of economic reforms first. At that meeting Hariri promised to reduce the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP by 5 percent over five years.
Lebanon had the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio, at over 150 percent, at the end of 2017. The International Monetary Fund wants to see immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment to improve debt sustainability.
On Wednesday, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said Lebanon did not have the luxury of time when it came to forming a government “especially when it comes to the economic situation.”
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has said the Lebanese pound, which is pegged to the dollar, will remain stable and that the central bank has high foreign reserves.
He reiterated those comments to broadcaster CNBC on Tuesday.
Lebanon’s foreign assets excluding gold were $43.56 billion at the end of August, according to central bank data.


Damac chief confident of Dubai property market recovery by 2021

Updated 12 November 2018
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Damac chief confident of Dubai property market recovery by 2021

DUBAI: One of the UAE’s leading property developers believes that the property market will pick up again by 2021.
Hussain Sajwani, the billionaire founder and chairman of Dubai-based Damac Properties, told a World Economic Forum meeting in the UAE that it could take “a few years” before the current phase of the property cycle reversed, boosted by foreign buyers, especially those from China.
“As you appreciate the property market is cyclical everywhere in the world — and you see a few years up, and a few years down.

“We had our chance of a (bull) market from 2012 to 2015 … Then in 2016 we started seeing some slowdown with the oil prices coming down,” he said at the WEF’s Global Future Councils gathering in Dubai.
“This year has been a difficult year and I think next year will be another difficult year. I don’t see it’s going to be better than this year. We’re in that cycle of slowdown and it will take a few years. I hope that by 2020 with the Expo coming in, more people will be coming to Dubai,” he added.
Some real estate experts have forecast a recovery to the Dubai property market next year, as the expected “Expo 2020 effect” boosts the economy.
Sajwani was confident of the long-term attractions of Dubai.

“I genuinely believe Dubai is still a hidden jewel and a lot of people around the world still want to come to Dubai and they love it,” he said.
“If we just take one country, like China, if we can attract another few million tourists from China we can get more people to come here, spend time, buy property… and retail … I would hope by the end of 2020 or 2021 we start coming out of this slowdown.”