Lebanon considers ways to restructure public debt

16 Jan 19

Lebanon is exploring new ways to manage its public debt as part of wider public finance reform plans, it has been reported.

The country has one of the largest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world at around 150% and has seen years of weak economic growth.

The country’s finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil told local media last week the government was preparing a “financial correction plan”, which included restructuring its public debt.

“The public debt cannot continue in this way,” he told al-Akhbar newspaper.

The finance minister also told Reuters the plan was “part of a reform project” for the public finances.

Measures for reform were set out at in Paris at a donor’s conference last year, where Lebanon vowed to bring down its deficit.

“It is a voluntary financial correction plan being prepared in the ministry to avoid anything worse happening,” he said, adding “ideas for management of the debt and its structure are still under study”.

No steps had yet been taken, Khalil said, but the aim was to have the plan ready for when a new government is formed. Political leaders have not been able to form a new government, eight months after the election took place.

Khalil has held the post of finance minister since 2014 and is expected to stay in the position in the new government.

He added that the country was committed to its Eurobond issuances and would not violate any of its terms, Reuters reported.

The IMF in June called for the country to improve debt sustainability and implement fiscal reforms to boost growth.

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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