Le­banon plans stim­u­lus to help econ­omy cope with refugees

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

Le­banon is plan­ning a stim­u­lus pack­age of as much as $1.2 bil­lion next year to boost an econ­omy reel­ing from the in­flux of refugees from neigh­bor­ing war-torn Syria, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Cen­tral Bank of­fi­cial.

The pack­age will be al­lo­cated to in­dus­try and tourism, as well as in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, med­i­cal ser­vices, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and fash­ion de­sign, Saad Andary, sec­ond vice gover­nor of Banque du Liban, said in an in­ter­view in Cairo Wed­nes­day. The reg­u­la­tor is aim­ing for 3-3.5 per­cent growth in 2018, com­pared with its fore­cast of 2-2.5 per­cent this year, he said.

The 6-year-old civil war in Syria has weighed on Le­banon’s econ­omy, forc­ing more than 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple to flee over the bor­der, clos­ing trade routes and ex­ac­er­bat­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic fric­tion.

Refugees now ac­count for about a third of Le­banon’s over­all pop­u­la­tion of 6 mil­lion, and Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri said in March that the cri­sis has cost the coun­try about $18 bil­lion since the war be­gan.

Remit­tances are lit­tle changed so far this year com­pared with 2016, Andary said, with­out giv­ing a spe­cific num­ber. The World Bank said in a re­port that remit­tances fell to 6.8 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct in 2016. – Bloomberg News

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