Lebanon\'s Finance Ministry Says Deficit Reached New Heights in 2000
The budget deficit in Lebanon rose to a huge 56.3 percent of spending in 2000, up from 42.4 percent the year before, reported the Daily Star newspaper, quoting a statement by the finance ministry on Wednesday.
The $3.9 billion deficit for 2000, up from $2.3 billion in 1999, even exceeded the revenues generated by the government last year, said the statement.
The staggering rise in the deficit underlines the magnitude of the task facing the government, which is trying to stimulate economic growth without causing the public finances to worsen substantially, according to the paper.
A further deterioration in the public finances could lead to a renewed pressure on the Lebanese pound and further downgrades in Lebanon’s credit rating from international agencies.
The deficit in December 2000 reached $821 million, or 80 percent of spending, up from $200 million in December 1999.
The ministry said that the deficit rose sharply last December because it speeded up payments of some outstanding bills owed to the private sector.
According to an article published in December last year by the weekly Middle East Times, privatization is planned in the coming years to yield some $1.4 billion to pay down public debt, which stands at more than $20 billion and 120 percent of gross domestic product.
But legislation to permit the more problematic laws on specific sales, starting with telecommunications, has not even made it through parliament, said the study -- Albawaba.com