Heavily Indebted Lebanon Promises Quick Reforms

Lebanon is committed to launching fast and effective reforms that could be “difficult and painful” to avoid a worsening of economic, financial and social conditions, according to a draft government policy statement seen by Reuters on Wednesday. The statement sets the main policy objectives of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s national unity government that was finally formed last week after nine months of wrangling over cabinet portfolios, Reuters reported. With one of the world’s highest public debt burdens, Lebanon says it will carry out reforms that have been put off for years but are now seen as more pressing than ever to put the public finances on a sustainable path. The draft policy statement commits to bringing down the debt-to-GDP ratio by boosting the size of the economy and reducing the budget deficit. Echoing a pledge made by Hariri at last year’s Paris donor conference, it says the government is committed to a “financial correction” equal to at least one percent of GDP a year over five years, starting with the 2019 budget. Read more