Lebanon’s economy will gradually recover, President Aoun says
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Lebanon’s economy will gradually recover, President Aoun says

“We have a gradual reform program, and we will successively implement what was requested from us during the CEDRE (Conférence économique pour le développement, par les réformes et avec les entreprises),” Aoun told reporters in the capital Beirut on Monday. He noted that certain policies will be difficult to implement because of the country’s financial situation. On April 6 last year, France hosted in Paris the CEDRE international conference in support of Lebanon development and reforms. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, along with a Lebanese ministerial delegation, was present. Nearly 50 states and international organizations participated in the event. International donors pledged an $11-billion loan package to Lebanon to help the country's ailing economy at the event. In return, the Lebanese government promised to make key reforms such as reining in its public spending and lowering its budget deficit. Also on Monday, Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil called upon authorities to declare a political and economic state of emergency in the country. "This measure would reassure people that there are institutions capable of approaching all social, economic, and environmental and security issues,” the official National News Agency quoted him as saying. Khalil later stressed the need to deal seriously and openly with Lebanon's economic crisis, besides implementation of proposals endorsed during a high-level financial and economic meeting held at Baabda Palace earlier this month. On August 8, Lebanon’s only English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, published a blank edition in protest against the country's lingering political crisis and deteriorating economic conditions. The prominent daily appeared on newsstands with a black front page. “Lebanon" read the cover of the daily. Each page bore a single phrase referring to one of the country's problems, including government deadlock, rising public debt, increasing sectarian rhetoric, pollution, unemployment and illegal weapons. The back page had a photo of the cedar tree, which is the national emblem of Lebanon, with a caption reading: “Wake up before it's too late!” Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlocks and an economic crisis in recent years. The country hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and their presence is often blamed for putting pressure on the already struggling economy. Unemployment stands at more than 20 percent, according to official figures. The Lebanese Finance Ministry says the national debt is hovering around $85 billion, which accounts for more than 150 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Successive governments have failed to address a waste management crisis or improve the electricity grid, which is plagued by daily power cuts.

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