A report by the Lebanon Invest Group, Lebinvest, indicates that Lebanese government expenditures reached $5.36 billion and revenues totaled $2.62 billion in the first 10 months of 2000, resulting in a budget deficit of 51.17 percent of expenditures compared to 44.8 percent for the same period last year and to a target deficit of 37.3 percent for this year.
Expenditures increased by 18.6 percent while revenues rose 5.22 percent from the corresponding period of 1999. The deficit rose to 54.85 percent in October. Overall revenues from direct taxes fell by 5.26 percent to $1.695 billion. The deficit was 54.85 percent in October compared to 48.13 percent in September and 57.89 percent in October 1999.
Debt servicing accounted for 42.81 percent of expenditures and constituted 87.68 percent of overall revenues and 97.85 percent of budgetary receipts. Excluding debt servicing, the primary surplus reached 8.17 percent of budgetary expenditures, and was down 1.78 percent to $350.44 million year-on-year.
Debt servicing, salaries of public employees, funds allocated to municipalities and subsidies to the money-losing Electricité du Liban continue to constitute a major burden on the budget and Treasury.
Imports reached $5.16 billion in the first 10 months of 2000, a 0.19 percent rise compared to the same period last year, while exports totaled $594 million, up 9.19 percent over the same period last year. The trade deficit amounted to $4.566 billion, down $40 million, or 0.87 percent, from the first 10 months of 1999. The export to import ratio was 11.52 percent, improving from the 10.57 percent registered during the corresponding period last year.
The stagnation in imports is attributed to higher customs duties, and reflects the prevailing tight liquidity and continuing weak consumer demand. Italy was Lebanon’s main source of imports followed by France, Germany, the United States, and Switzerland. The United Arab Emirates was the main export destination with $64 million, or 10.8 percent or the total, and was followed by Saudi Arabia with 10.6 percent, Switzerland with 7.6 percent, the United States with 6.1 percent, and France with 5.4 percent.
Customs revenues reached $1.08 billion in the first 10 months of 2000, down 7.38 percent from the same period last year. Customs revenues stood at $128.7 million in October compared to $106.2 million in September and $120.1 million in October 1999. Income from customs and tariffs accounted for 44 percent and 47 percent of government revenues in 1999 and 1998, respectively. — (Lebanon Invest)