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With more than 1.4mn Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon, the country’s stuttering economy is coming under ever more strain. The IMF sees the electricity sector as a potential pivot for recovery.
While the influx of refugees from war-torn Syria continues to dominate Lebanon’s short-term economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says “electricity reform is an urgent priority” for the Beirut government to kick-start its economy.
The Lebanese presidency has lain vacant since May 2014, while a lack of consensus between the major parties – all of which are sectarian-based – hinders the passage of key legislation. But the IMF argues that, despite this impasse, action could be taken now in two important areas: passing a budget for 2015 – the first in a decade – and reforming the electricity sector. “Lebanon’s inefficient electricity supply is a major impediment to growth,” the IMF says after its recent Article IV consultation with Beirut. “Losses from Electricité du Liban (EDL) weigh heavily on public finances and poor service delivery has prompted the extensive use of costly private generators.”
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