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Lebanon’s public debt approaches $70 billion

Lebanon’s economy grew by 2 per cent despite challenges, according to the bank

Lebanon’s public debt is approaching the $70-billion barrier after fresh statistics showed a major rise in the debt during March.

Figures released by the Lebanese Finance Ministry and the Association of Banks reveal that the country’s public debt soared by $180 million in March to $69.43bn, from $69.25bn in February.

The country’s public debt surged $4.33bn year-on-year. By the end of March last year, Lebanon’s public debt was $65.1bn.

According to the data published by Al-Mustaqbal, the banking sector financed 56.09 per cent of the total public debt of the country.

In earlier remarks, Lebanon’s Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the nation’s public debt is projected to reach $71bn by the end of the current year.

According to Banque du Liban (the Lebanese central bank), the public debt comprises about 143 per cent of gross domestic product.

The bank said that the national economy was unable, for a fourth consecutive year, to effectively escape the fallout of the war in neighbouring Syria and the political standoff at home.

It added that major economic indicators such as foreign trade, tourism, investment and consumption have been on a downward trend since 2011.

In 2014, Lebanon’s economy grew by 2 per cent despite challenges, according to the bank.