Lebanon Looks To Put Fiscal House In Order

With the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio and annual growth averaging just 1.7% since 2011, the Lebanese economy needs crucial assistance. Saad Hariri’s government aims to cut this year’s deficit and upcoming donor conferences may help. But can efforts overcome the structural issues impairing prosperity?

Senior officials including Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil traveled to Rome this week for a 15 March international donor conference aiming to secure funding for Lebanon’s military. Mr Hariri announced France would fund a $500mn military facility, among other pledged donations from the UK and EU. Lebanon’s military is heavily reliant on foreign aid a symptom of decades-long fiscal and economic mismanagement.

Under Mr Hariri’s leadership, the government finally appears poised to address these endemic issues. The Rome conference is the first of three donor conferences this spring dedicated to increasing aid and investment in the economy. At the Cedre Conference (also known as Paris IV), scheduled for 6 April in Paris, Mr Hariri will seek $16bn in soft loans and grants for a 10-year overhaul of Lebanon’s dilapidated infrastructure with around 250 projects in total. (CONTINUED - 1461 WORDS)