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Lebanon’s Economy Minister: No Austerity Policies that Increase Citizens’ Burdens

Lebanon’s Economy Minister: No Austerity Policies that Increase Citizens’ Burdens

Wednesday, 6 February, 2019 - 07:45
Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/GettyImages)
Beirut - Paula Astih
Minister of Economy Mansour Bteish said that the new government would not adopt an austerity policy that increases the Lebanese people’s burdens, but would implement structural reforms mainly targeting financial policies in order to stimulate production, curb the monopoly and protect the consumer.

Bteish, who is one of the ministers representing the Free Patriotic Movement’s Strong Lebanon bloc in the new cabinet, said that the country already had plans to promote an economic revival, but needed a national determination to launch such endeavor.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he stressed that Lebanon was going through a “delicate” economic situation, due to cumulative economic imbalances.

“But in our country, we have human potentials and resources that enable us to overcome the current situation,” he affirmed.

“We will immediately begin to adopt scientific and practical solutions because now is the time for work.”

Reform should target different angles, according to Bteish, starting with the deficit in public finance and the trade balance. There are solutions to deal with both issues, he said.

“The Ministry of Economy will continue its work in terms of drafting economic policies, but at the same time, it will participate in the development of fiscal and monetary policies and will stimulate real competition and counter monopoly,” the minister asserted.

Under the request of Former Economy Minister Raed Khoury, the former government has assigned the global consulting firm McKinsey to develop a plan to boost the Lebanese economy. Bloomberg recently reported that the plan’s recommendations ranged from building wealth management, investment and banking center to the legislation of the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Asked whether the new government’s work would be affected by internal political bickering, Bteish stressed that the Cabinet’s first session, held at Baabda Palace on Saturday, was “very encouraging and the atmosphere was constructive,” suggesting that “all the parties are moving to open a new productive page.”

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