Good news at last for the Lebanese economy, with the finance ministry in Beirut reporting that the government’s budget was down to 38 percent in September, from 46 percent in August and 54 percent in July. The reason? Better tax collection, ever since an amnesty for tax defaulters was implemented in August. Total revenues from taxes in September increased to $328 million from $312 million in August.
Not only was tax collection up, but government outlays were down. The finance ministry said spending stood at $527 million in September, down from $578 million in August. Public-debt interest payments rose by $89 million in September to $279 million.
One of the ministries responsible for Lebanon’s improved balance of payments situation was post and telecommunications. It reported record revenues of $340 million in the first nine months of 2000, compared to $156 million during the corresponding period in 1999. In September $73 million from the post and telecommunications ministry was transferred to the ministry of finance.
According to the Daily Star, the finance ministry has forecast projected an accumulated deficit below 50 percent for the first nine months of the year, providing that the national electricity provider, EDL, does not need a cash injection to cover its losses. The finance minister has been providing EDL with $250 million and $300 million on each year to cover losses incurred by its failure to collect payment for electric bills. – (Albawaba-MEBG)
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