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Lebanon central bank postpones meeting to decide on strike

May 11

Lebanon central bank postpones meeting to decide on strike

Lebanese central bank staff said they had postponed a meeting on Friday to decide whether to resume or end a strike they began on Monday over state budget proposals that would cut their benefits, the head of the staff syndicate said, Reuters reports.

They suspended the strike on Tuesday but kept open the possibility of resuming the walkout on Friday if the government presses ahead with draft budget proposals that would cut their pay.

“The strike is still suspended and will continue until it’s decided on these clauses,” said Abbas Awada without giving a time on when the next meeting will be.

The central bank strike led to a suspension of trade on the Beirut Stock Exchange for a second day on Tuesday because the transaction clearance and settlement process could not be completed on time, but trading resumed on Wednesday.

The Lebanese government is in talks over a new state budget which aims to bring down the deficit to less than 9% of gross domestic product in 2019 from 11.2% in 2018, the finance minister told Reuters.

Lebanon has one of the heaviest public debt burdens in the world at some 150% of GDP. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt servicing costs and hefty subsidies spent on the power sector.

The wide-ranging austerity proposals encompass all parts of the state including the military, which together with the central bank has been seen as a pillar of Lebanon’s stability since.

middleeastmonitor