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Lebanon President: 'Oil and gas exploration will have a positive impact on economy'

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun attends a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (not seen) at Moscow's Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on March 26, 2019. [Russian Presidential Press and Information Office - Anadolu Agency]
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun in Moscow, Russia on March 26, 2019 [Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said that the process of promoting the Lebanese economy has started, noting that such a process which will be initiated by oil and gas drilling early next year, is expected to carry a positive impact on the country's economic condition.

Lebanese authorities hope to make profits from oil and gas fields within the territorial waters of the Mediterranean Sea, starting already to bid for offshore drilling licenses to international companies working in this field, as well as trying to settle the dispute with Israel on the southern maritime border and demarcate it permanently.

During a meeting with a delegation of Lebanese trade associations, Aoun indicated that the draft budget for 2019 includes measures which are aimed at strengthening the production sectors in Lebanon, especially in industry and agriculture, with a view to a gradual transition to a production based economy instead of the rentier economy adopted by successive Lebanese governments.

READ: Lebanon 2019 state budget approved by cabinet

Aoun expressed his hope that the new budget will be adopted in the House of Representatives as soon as possible, pointing out that the government's approval of the draft budget contributed to a sense of relief in financial markets.

He stressed that the implementation of the measures and regulations, provided for in the new budget, would reduce the deficit and make preparations for the 2020 budget. Ministers will submit the draft budgets of their ministries directly to the Minister of Finance to proceed with the study and preparations for the general budget as well as to forward it to the House of Representatives within scheduled constitutional deadlines.

The Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri completed on Monday its work on the 2019 budget. Thus, the deficit compared to local output in the new budget reached 59.79 per cent, and the public expenditure amounted to 23.34 billion Lebanese pounds ($15.56 billion), in addition to an amount of 2500 billion Lebanese pounds ($ 1.66.6 billion) directed to supporting the public electricity company, Electricity of Lebanon, in order to cover the deficit in the electricity sector. On the other hand, imports expenditure amounted to 19.16 billion Lebanese pounds, i.e. $12.67.7 billion.

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