Lebanon's public debt notices a small increase
The gross public debt reached $55.4 billion at the end of July 2012, constituting a mere increase of 3.3 percent from the end of 2011, and 5 percent from July 2011, according to figures released by the Association of Banks in Lebanon.“When measured against the size of the economy, gross public debt accounted for 136.4 percent of GDP at end-July 2012, reporting a relative standstill since year-end 2011,” said the report, which was published by Bank Audi’s Lebanon Weekly Monitor.
It added that domestic debt decreased by 0.9 percent from the end of 2011 and was up by 1.3 percent from the end of July 2011 to reach a total of $32.4 billion at the end of July 2012. The external debt increased by 9.9 percent from end-2011 and 10.8 percent from end-July 2011 to attain a total of $23 billion at end-July 2012.
The report added that the increase in gross public debt during the first seven months of 2012 comes amid a hike in public sector deposits at the Central Bank, which rose by 15.7 percent from end-2011 and by 7.7 percent from end-July 2011 and stood at $6.1 billion at end-July 2012.
The increase is attributed to the fact that the government hasn’t been resorting to these deposits to finance its growing deficit. As for the public sector deposits at commercial banks, they went up by 2.5 percent from end-2011 and by 26 percent from end-July 2011 to stand at $2 billion at end-July 2012.
As such, net public debt, which excludes the public sector’s deposits at the Central Bank and commercial banks from overall debt figures, increased by 2 percent from end-2011 and by 3.9 percent from end-July 2011 to reach a total of $47.3 billion, of which net domestic debt amounted to $24.3 billion at end-July 2012.
The International Monetary Fund said that while Syria’s unrest has so far had only a moderate impact on the Lebanese economy, the Fund is more concerned about the government’s weak policymaking.