Lebanon’s $900 Million Budget Fix Masks Risks as Arrears Pile Up

The Lebanese government is deferring payments to contractors and public entities, improving the budget numbers but endangering a lifeline for businesses, Bloomberg News reported. Delayed payments for this year alone have exceeded $900 million, pushing the outstanding total to over $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. The government owes contractors about $300 million, half of which was incurred in 2019, said Maroun Helo, head of the Lebanese Contractors Syndicate of Public Works and Buildings. Contractors are defaulting on debt, he said. “This is creating a very big crisis.” The government of one of the world’s most indebted nations has pulled out all the stops to push through a budget touted as the most austere in the country’s history in the hope of appeasing investors, donors and rating companies. Read more