Lebanese PM vows to tackle country’s economic problems

2 Jan 19

The Lebanese prime minister-designate is “determined” to form a government and tackle the country’s economic issues amid political wrangling over cabinet seats.

Politicians have been unable to form a government since the general election in May as rival parties have not been able to decide on cabinet positions.  

The heavily indebted country has experienced years of weak growth and the International Monetary Fund has said it should carry out urgent measures to make its public finances sustainable.

But on Tuesday prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said he and president Michel Aoun had met and were “determined to form a government”.

He said: “We have fallen behind – we must form a government.

“The president and I are determined to meet again and finish this issue, because the country cannot continue without a government.”

He said on Sunday that he believed a government would be formed early in the new year.

Cabinet seats must be parcelled out among rival groups according to a finely balanced sectarian political system, which is in place in Lebanon.

According to state news agency NNA, the country’s finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Saturday that he feared Lebanon was heading towards a financial crash.

“The repercussions and consequences of the economic crisis today are at their highest. The crisis started to turn into a financial one.

“We hope it will not become a monetary crisis,” he said.

The lack of government has caused concern because of the country’s economic problems as well as instability in the region more widely.  

Hariri has pledged to carry out economic reforms that he says could lead to billions of dollars of international investment in Lebanese power, transport and data infrastructure.

The Middle Eastern country has experienced weak growth since 2011 and the IMF has estimated growth rates of 1% to 1.5% in 2017 and 2018.

 

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