Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Anyone who wants to keep current on economic and financial happenings in Lebanon should subscribe to the work of the Economic Research & Analysis Department (ER&AD) of Byblos Bank. On a weekly basis, the Department looks at economic indicators, capital markets, and the latest business news with a detailed perspective that is very helpful. It also publishes a country risk weekly bulletin with regional and global statistics in sufficient detail to gladden the heart of any analyst! The most recent issue contains useful news for those wanting to know how Lebanon’s economy is doing.

UNCTAD Investment Climate Report

The latest Investment Policy Review by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) assesses current investment climate in Lebanon. The assessment was done at the request o...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

In last week’s debate running up to the adoption of the ministerial statement, the surreal quality of Lebanon’s political culture again took center stage. There were charges and countercharges regarding the respective roles of former (assassinated) president Bashir Gemayel and Hezbollah in Lebanese affairs, while some members claimed that the CEDRE projects are a plot to keep Syrians in Lebanon by providing employment for them. This, of course, conveniently overlooked the fact that for 20 plus years, some half million Syrians in Lebanon have worked in agricultural and construction jobs that many Lebanese shun.

Other anomalies peppered the debate such as the role of pro-Syrian minister Saled al-Gharib, responsible for the refugee portfolio,  who “has vowed to do whatever it takes to push Syr...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Arab Fiscal Forum, held before the annual World Government Summit in Dubai, featured a strong statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde commenting on the need for good fiscal management and governance including more effective efforts to combat corruption. Her remarks were echoed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri in several interviews at the same forum.

In her speech, Lagarde noted that despite the burdens of excessive public spending, lack of sufficient government revenues due to gaps in enforcement, and overall lack of strong controls over budgets and spending protocols, several countries are moving ahead to install better fiscal monitoring and administration. Interestingly, both oil exporters and importers are realizing the need for more professional and transparent controls du...

Thursday, February 7, 2019

It appears that the negotiations in the ministerial committee have been concluded and a draft of the statement setting out the government’s priorities is set to be debated next week when President Aoun calls a cabinet meeting for final approval of the document. According to remarks by Information Minister Jamal Jarrah at a press conference following the meeting, there will be few objections to the draft as much has already been discussed in the preparatory meetings: “When each party was expressing its opinion concerning a certain point, it was keen on the country and to accelerate the completion of the ministerial statement and tackle the problems faced by the Lebanese on all subjects, including the restructuring of institutions and ministries.”

Given the importance of quickly dealing with...

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