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French Version


Finance Ministry reports reduction in budget deficit

Higher revenues have allowed the government to reduce the budget deficit in the first three months of 2008 to 24.69 percent from 31.88 percent in the same period of 2007, the Finance Ministry said on Friday.

In its monthly statement, the Finance Ministry said the value of the budget deficit until the month of March was LL812 billion, down from LL993 billion in the same period of last year.

It added that the primary surplus, excluding the cost of debt servicing, reached LL390 billion in the first three months of 2008, up from LL120 billion in the same period of 2007.

But the ministry said that Electricite du Liban's (EDL) deficit has increased by LL162 billion to LL500 billion in the first thee months of this year.

Nearly 70 percent of EDL's losses are due to the rise in the pric of fuel oil, which runs all of Lebanon's power plants.

Experts fear that the losses of EDL will mount more if the price of oil in the international market continued their upward trend. Electricity losses represent the second biggest challenge to the government after the cost debt servicing.

The ministry said that total tax and nontax revenues in the first three months of this year reached LL2.477 trillion, a rise of 16.74 percent compared to the same period of 2007.

Value added tax revenues in the period covered in the report rose to LL600.621 billion from LL499.301 billion, an increase of 20.29 percent. Nontax revenues, such as the income from the fixed telephone and cellular networks, rose to LL677.975 billion from LL641.722 billion, an increase of 5.65 percent.

But revenues from tariffs in the first three months of 2008 fell by 12.32 percent to LL301.664 billion.

Government spending, excluding the cost of debt servicing, reached LL2.088 trillion in the first three months of 2008.

The International Monetary Fund has praised the efforts of the Finance Ministry to reduce the budge deficit despite the political difficulties in the country.

Beirut 29-04-2008
Redaction
The Daily Star



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