Lebanon presents new economic plan
Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Tuesday unveiled a six-point economic revival and reform program that his government plans to introduce to a conference of donors at Paris later this month.
The government is to convene on Thursday to ratify the accord.
The reforms, to be discussed at the January 25 conference in Paris, include plans for privatisation and curbing government spending in order to boost economic growth and ease the burden of Lebanon's massive public debt. Saniora warned that failing to gain international support would further escalate the state debt and "the Lebanese economy would enter a very serious era."
Lebanon has a foreign debt of US$41 billion and sustained losses estimated at US$6.3 billion during the summer war between Hizbullah and Israel. "Real GDP growth, which was estimated at 5-6 per cent during the first half of 2006, is likely to end the year at a negative 5 per cent," the program said. The reforms would aim to raise real growth rates to 4-5 per cent a year in the next five years.