Lebanon Plans Stimulus to Help Economy Cope With Refugee Influx

Sep 14, 2017 3:34 am ET

(Bloomberg) -- Lebanon is planning a stimulus package of as much as $1.2 billion next year to boost an economy reeling from the influx of refugees from neighboring war-torn Syria, according to a senior central bank official.

The package will be allocated to industry and tourism, as well as information technology, medical services, communication and fashion design, Saad Andary, second vice governor of the Banque du Liban, said in an interview in Cairo on Wednesday. The regulator is aiming for 3-3.5 percent growth in 2018, compared with its forecast of 2-2.5 percent this year, he said.

The six-year civil war in Syria has weighed on Lebanon’s economy, forcing more than 1.5 million people to flee over the border, closing trade routes and exacerbating political and economic friction. Refugees now account for about a quarter of Lebanon’s population of 6 million, and Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in March the crisis has cost Lebanon about $18 billion since the war began.

Remittances are little changed so far this year compared with 2016, Andary said, without giving a specific number. The World Bank said in a report that remittances fell to 6.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2016.

--With assistance from Dana Khraiche

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