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Syrian crisis weighing on Lebanon’s budget

A Lebanese economist has warned the country’s budget deficit could rise to 37% of spending in 2014 if drastic reforms are not carried out and the Syrian conflict continues unabated, The Daily Star has reported. “Part of the drop in revenues and alarming rise in expenditures is due to the presence of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon,” economist Ghazi Wazni told the daily. “This presence has prompted the ministries to increase allocations to heath, education and social welfare services this year. The deficit could be more than 37% next year.” Caretaker finance minister, Mohammad Safadi said the ministry had to spend an additional $900m this year to cope with the influx of refugees in Lebanon, warning that the public finances would come under further pressure next year if the issue of the refugees was not addressed effectively.