Lebanon will soon issue new treasury bonds worth between $750 million to $1 billion in order to cover the cost of treasury bonds coming of age this April, Lebanese Finance Minister Fuad Siniora said Saturday, March 24. "We have received offers that will cover the payment of $500 million (in bonds) which come of age in April, and envisage raising $750 million to $1 billion in order to benefit from low interest rates," said Siniora without fixing a date.
Siniora said the state was still completing its preparations and had not yet chosen a financial insitution to manage the bond issue. Siniora said the decision was made "in coordination between Lebanon's central bank and certain Lebanese banks," and added the banks were ready to cover either some or all of the costs.
Lebanese banks carries 80 percent of the public debt which is valued at $25 billion or 147 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). According to Siniora, debt payment will account for 44 percent of the 2001 national budget, which forsees a deficit of $3.3 billion.
Despite reservations from experts who estimate Lebanon's financial needs for the current year at $5 billion, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said March 8: "Lebanese banks can continue to finance the state." —(AFP)
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