Lebanon ‘Challenging’

Lebanon’s economic conditions and prospects remain “very challenging,” IMF regional director Masood Ahmed says.

Mr Ahmed notes that regional spillovers continue to dominate Lebanon’s near-term outlook and undermine investors’ confidence. In particular he sees that the large inflow of Syrian refugees (around a quarter of the population now) is straining local communities and taxing already weak public finances.

IMF official estimates put real growth remaining below 2% in 2014: insufficient to dent unemployment.

Also the fiscal position has improved slightly, according to Mr Ahmed, who notes that a small primary surplus is projected for 2014, mainly as a result of higher telecom transfers, lower capital spending, and the delay in the implementation of the salary scale adjustment for the public sector. But at the same time public debt is projected to continue to rise and exceed 140% of GDP by year-end. (CONTINUED - 366 WORDS)