Government to implement CEDRE pledges and projects. Promise of 24-hour power supply and public hiring freeze

Government to implement
CEDRE pledges and projects
Promise of 24-hour power supply

and public hiring freeze

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The new Cabinet plans to start executing the Capital Investment Plan (CIP) which was agreed upon at the CEDRE conference, according to the government’s draft policy statement that will be presented soon to Parliament.

The CIP mainly involves infrastructure projects with total investments of $17 billion that will be deployed over eight years after the government approves the projects and sets the priorities. Nearly $5 billion of the total will be financed by the local and foreign private sectors through public-private partnerships (PPP).

The government plans to speed up the implementation of projects whose funds, totaling $3.3 billion, had been secured prior to the CEDRE donor conference.

It will seek soft loans for development and investment projects from Arab and international funds and financial institutions. It will encourage the private sector to invest in infrastructure projects.

The draft policy includes reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio through economic growth and by cutting the budget deficit. The deficit will be reduced each year by at least one percent of GDP over five years. This will be achieved by boosting revenues and cutting expenditures.

Expenditures for public sector consumption will be cut by 20 percent compared to the 2018 budget.

Electricité du Liban’s (EDL) deficit is to be reduced gradually until it is completely eliminated.

The government said in its draft statement that it is committed to providing a 24-hour power supply in partnership with the private sector. The cost of power generation is to be reduced by using natural gas and by diversifying power generation sources including renewable energy.

It also plans to revise the electricity tariff while taking into consideration the financial realities of low-income households. It will nominate a new EDL board of directors.

The taxpayers’ base is to be expanded and tax collection improved. The government will also combat tax evasion and the squandering of public money.

Hiring in the public sector will be frozen in 2019. The number of hired employees in the following four years must be equal to half the annual number of new retirees provided the target of reducing the fiscal deficit is achieved.

The government will implement the law that stipulates the construction of government building and reducing reliance on renting public facilities.

It plans to award the second round of oil and gas licenses before the end of 2019. The law for the creation of a sovereign fund for the oil and gas sector is to be approved as well as the law for oil and gas exploration on land.

The government will set up a general policy to open the telecom sector to private sector investment. It will also name the telecom regulatory authority and the board of directors of Liban Telecom as a prelude to converting it into a company.

It also plans to set up a national data center in partnership with the private sector. A third undersea cable to link Lebanon directly to Europe is to be built.

The policy to improve the business environment includes the ratification of a number of draft laws pertaining to such topics as bankruptcy, liquidation, intellectual property, land trade, and in-kind collaterals.

The Beirut Stock Exchange will be converted into a joint stock company and an electronic trading platform will be launched.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
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Date Posted: Feb 07, 2019