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Lebanon aims at joining world’s petroleum club

Nov 16

Mubasher: Lebanon is facing a lot of economic and political challenges, according to the director general of the Lebanese Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Faced by internal and regional crises, the country was still able to achieve security and stability, Alain Bifani said in his remarks to the Business Forum organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the southern and eastern Mediterranean region (SEMED), which was held in Cairo on Tuesday.

Despite the fact that the Lebanese government is currently facing another challenge after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Bifani noted that the country recently had its first budget in 12 years.

In October, the Lebanese parliament approved the first state budget since 2005, when a major political clash was sparked by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri.

However, double-digit deficit remains a problem for the Lebanese policy makers, admitted the finance ministry director general.

On a more positive note, Bifani said that Lebanon may soon enter the world’s petroleum club, referring to the recent natural gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Alain Bifani also stressed that the biggest economic challenge facing Lebanon has been low economic growth rates, resulting in a low number of created jobs, which leads to many citizens seeking opportunities elsewhere in the world.

Another major problem Lebanon is facing is the refugee crisis, he noted.

Lebanon is believed to be hosting more than one million Syrian refugees, and 450,000 Palestinians.