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CHAMPION OF THE DAY
First fiscal surplus
ever to be published
Expenditures down due to decrease
in electricity subsidy and debt service
Public finance registered in 2021 a fiscal surplus of LL2.2 trillion ($138 million at an average exchange rate of LL15,900 in 2021) compared with a deficit of LL4.1 trillion in the previous year, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
The surplus resulted from a 37 percent surge in total budget revenues to almost LL19 trillion and an eight percent decrease in total expenditure to nearly LL16 trillion. The surplus more than doubles when debt service is excluded (primary surplus) and reaches LL5 trillion ($315 million)
This is the only surplus recorded since MoF started publishing its accounts in 1998. The average annual deficit over the past decade (2011 to 2020) was LL6.2 trillion with a peak of LL9.4 trillion reached in 2018.
Total tax revenue jumped by 45 percent with its VAT component soaring 2.6 times. The revenue growth was mainly driven by an improvement in economic activity last year following the 2020 slump caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. The rise in revenues also resulted from the rush of many taxpayers to complete formalities with administrations and pay taxes as they were anticipating an increase in the official exchange rate following the sharp collapse of the lira.
The drop in expenditure was mainly the result of less fund transfer to Electricité du Liban due to the escalation of power rationing. It also resulted from the suspension of debt servicing on Eurobonds declared by the government in 2020.
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Oct 12, 2022
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