Lebanese President Michel Aoun to 'personally oversee' reforms

Measures agreed to by leaders this month will start to be introduced in October

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese President Michel Aoun, gestures upon his arrival at Tunis-Carthage International Airport to attend the Arab Summit, in Tunis, Tunisia March 30, 2019. Hussein Malla/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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Lebanese President Michel Aoun says he will personally oversee long-awaited economic and financial reforms expected to be introduced from October.

Leaders agreed on measures to revive Lebanon’s ailing economy at a high-level meeting this month.

These included finishing the 2020 budget on time, a plan to start $3.3 billion (Dh12.12bn) of projects approved by Parliament, a power sector reform plan and laws to fight tax evasion and regulate public tenders, Mr Aoun said.

Lebanon has for years struggled with low economic growth and one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.

Measures to reduce the budget deficit and reform the inefficient power sector are considered to be two vital tests of the government’s ability to reform.

The country needs to address these problems to gain access to $11bn of assistance pledged by international donors last year.

But attempts to move forward have been often blocked by Lebanon’s sectarian politics.

Mr Aoun said he would oversee the reforms with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri and other parties in government, he told Reuters.

He said this would “guarantee political stability in Cabinet and outside, and to secure the greatest amount of productivity” in relation to the 2019 budget and its reforms.

Work is also under way to approve the 2020 budget within the time required by the Constitution, Mr Aoun said.

It will include reforms agreed to at the August 9 meeting to reduce the power sector deficit, improve tax collection and fight evasion of Customs and tax.