BEIRUT (Reuters) – 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.
World - Debt - Burdens - Lebanon - Reforms
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.
Pledge - Hariri - Year - Paris - Donor
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.
This would be achieved by boosting revenues and cutting spending, starting with transfers to the state-run power company, which the World Bank has said represent a “staggering burden” on the public finances.
Draft - Statement - Government - State - Hiring
The draft statement also said the government would freeze state hiring in 2019 in all its forms.
State hiring in the four years to follow would be half the number of retirees and only on condition the deficit reduction targets had been met.
Information - Minister - Jamal - Al-Jarrah - Journalists
Information Minister Jamal al-Jarrah, speaking to journalists, said tax increases were not being considered.
He said there were no big points of contention over the statement and it was expected to be approved on Thursday by the government, which includes the Iran-backed group Hezbollah.
International - Donor - Institutions - Governments - Reforms
International donor institutions and foreign governments want to see reforms before releasing some $11 billion in...
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