The Central Bank’s trading bracket for the US Dollar ended the week at [1,501-1,514] implying an end of week average LL/USD exchange rate of 1,507.50. Lebanon’s balance of payments (BoP) recorded a cumulative deficit of $289.1 million in 2000 compared to a surplus of $267.7 million in 1999.
The BoP registered a deficit of $133.5 million in December compared to a deficit of $65.3 million in November and a surplus of $99.8 million in December of the previous year. The December deficit was caused by a decrease of $12.5 million in the Central Bank’s net foreign assets and a drop of $121 million in those of banks and financial institutions. The 2000 deficit constitutes the second year in 10 years that the BoP registers a deficit on a yearly basis.
The Central Bank’s index of economic activity in Lebanon, an average of 12 weighted economic indicators, reached 194.7 in December compared 198.8 in November and 196.3 in
December 1999. The yearly average for the index was 191 compared to an average of 185 in
1999. The index ended the year down 0.82 percent from 1999 compared to an increase of 1.4 percent from 1998. The results continue to reflect the prevailing economic slowdown in the country.
Figures released by the Finance Ministry show that Lebanon’s net public debt totaled $23.43 billion at the end of December, constituting an increase of 17.74 percent in 2000. Net domestic debt reached $16.27 billion, increasing by 14.75 percent in 2000, while foreign debt rose 25.81 percent this year to $6.967 billion. Foreign currency borrowing accounts for 30 percent of total net public debt and reflects the ongoing restructuring of the debt as the
Lebanese government is gradually shifting towards foreign financing in order to borrow at lower cost and over a longer period of time.
Customs revenues reached $94.2 million in January 2001, up 29.1 percent from December and down 12.35 percent from the same period last year. Income from customs and tariffs totaled $1.15 billion last year and accounted for 43 percent of budgetary receipts in 2000 compared to 44 percent and 47 percent in 1999 and 1998, respectively. — ( Lebanon Invest )
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )