Lebanon Budget Seen 'a Good First Step', But Numbers Questioned

Heavily indebted Lebanon has unveiled an unprecedented plan to bring its public finances under control but faces an uphill struggle to restore investor confidence that is needed to stave off crisis, Reuters reported. After years of backsliding on reform, fear of economic catastrophe has forced action on Lebanese leaders who have overseen the post-civil war policies that landed the country with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens. Minds in Beirut have been focused by years of low economic growth and a slowdown in deposit growth in the banking sector. This has been vital to meeting Lebanon’s financing needs, helping an economy that produces very little and imports lots to “defy gravity” for years, economists say. The budget includes some politically difficult moves such as a three-year state hiring freeze, capping bonuses and a tax on state pensions. Read more