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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 April 2019

World Government Summit: Lebanon's Saad Hariri says new government will overcome economic crisis

Mr Hariri last month announced the formation of a government after nine months of deadlock

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made the comments at the World Government Summit in Dubai. EPA
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made the comments at the World Government Summit in Dubai. EPA

The new Lebanese government will tackle endemic corruption and ensure that the country overcomes its economic crisis, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.

"We have developed a clear programme of reforms aimed at opening the way for foreign investors and working through it to develop our economy and eliminate corruption," he told the audience. "Our new reforms and laws will ensure that we overcome our economic crisis."

He said that Lebanese political factions had finally come come together around the joint mission of protecting the battered economy. The new government on Thursday approved a policy statement, drafted by a ministerial committee drawn from all the main factions, committing to reforms that are seen as critical to putting the heavily indebted state's finances on a sustainable path.

"There is a consensus among all political factions in Lebanon to protect and support the economy and fight corruption because the Lebanese economy will collapse if this continues," he continued.

"Most importantly for me is to develop a clear programme to confront corruption and to make the necessary reforms to support Lebanon economically. We have developed a clear programme of reforms aimed at opening the way for foreign investors."

The Lebanese premier said he had great ambitions for his country and wanted to make Lebanon "just like Dubai".

Mr Hariri made the comments at the summit where global leaders are gathering to discuss government responses to climate change, new technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The summit, which started on Sunday with a speech from the founder of the World Economic Forum, will hear the leader of the IMF, the UAE's foreign minister and the President of the UN General Assembly on the first day.

Mr Hariri last month announced the formation of a government after nine months of gridlock. Despite winning elections in May and becoming Prime Minister, Lebanon's delicate power-sharing system led to an impasse.

The newly formed government has now announced a raft of tough economic reforms, necessary to avoid worsening economic, financial and social conditions.

"Fighting corruption, ensuring a clear partnership between the private and public sector and the existence of security and political stability are all factors that attract investment to Lebanon," Mr Hariri said.

He warned that this was the "last chance" for Lebanon to get out of its economic crisis.

"We have collective support from all political factions to create reforms and new laws. We have no issues in passing new reforms in government," he said. "Either we make it or break it."

The country's new rulings will combat corruption and will ensure the mandatory compliance of lawmakers, Mr Hariri said.

Lebanon has one of the highest public debt-to-GDP ratios in the world, at around 150 per cent.

The country's new government now has four women running ministries, including Raya Al Hassan who became the first ever female interior minister in an Arab country.

"Women in Lebanon represent 54 per cent of the population. Ignoring to employ women is not only a missed opportunity but also a loss in our GDP," he said.

Mrs Al Hassan, 51, became the most senior of four women in the 30-minister government led by Mr Hariri.

Women were also appointed to run Lebanon’s energy, administrative development and women’s affairs portfolios.

Updated: February 10, 2019 03:27 PM

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