Lebanon’s prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, delivered some good news at last on Friday, April 13, when he said that government efforts to reduce the budget deficit had proven successful, with a 14 percent drop reported for the first quarter of 2001.
Speaking in a television interview, Hariri said that during the first three months of the year 2001, the deficit averaged 37 percent, compared to 51 percent during the same period last year.
However, government figures are not comprehensive. Hariri acknowledged that the government still owes funds to the country’s municipalities and hospitals, but noted that at this point last year the situation was similar.
Later in the interview, Hariri played down the significance of the sectarian demonstration, which had taken place the previous week. Describing them as “minor incidents,” he said that all Lebanese seek to solve the country’s problems through dialogue. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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