BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s cabinet made “important” progress on Sunday in its debate over the draft budget which will have a deficit of 8.3% of GDP or less, Lebanon’s Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said
The deficit was 11.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018. Lebanon has one of the heaviest public debt burdens in the world at around 150% of GDP.
Khalil tweeted that ministers would convene on Monday for a “final review” of the draft budget. “We discussed the last of the clauses and numbers”, he wrote.
“We reached a very encouraging and important result”, Khalil told reporters after a late night cabinet meeting. “With some additional decisions ... we got to this deficit”, he added.
Khalil said on Saturday the deficit would be below 9% of GDP and would include a saving of around 1 trillion Lebanese pounds ($663 million) in debt servicing costs.
He told Reuters the government aimed to reduce debt servicing costs by issuing treasury bonds at an interest rate of 1%.
Lebanon’s coalition cabinet has met almost daily to finalize a budget in an effort to get spending under control and rein in debt. President Michel Aoun has urged Lebanese to make sacrifices to rescue the country from financial crisis.
Reporting by Ellen Francis; Editing by Chris Reese