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Lebanon's path to growth and stability

Jihad Azour, Lebanon's finance minister, was director of UN Development Programme and World Bank projects at the ministry before his cabinet appointment in July 2005. He talks to Kate Luxford about Lebanon's economic priorities

What are the new government's economic strategies?

Azour: aims to restore

Our objectives are to restore confidence and put the Lebanese economy back on the growth track; to introduce structural reforms on the public finances, in order to adjust the debt dynamic; to liberalize the economy through the privatization of utilities and to achieve sustainable development; and to strengthen Lebanon's linkage with the global economy, through WTO membership, which will come very soon. So our objectives are economic growth, monetary stability, fiscal reforms, and integration into the regional economy. We also want to improve governance by reforming public administration, increasing transparency and improving the provision of services. Last, but not least, we want to improve the social safety net by meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

How are you planning to cut Lebanon's public debt?

First, by increasing the size of the economy, by having higher growth rates. Second, by improving the primary surplus, through reforms on the public expenditure side and by privatization – the law states that privatization proceeds must be used to cut the public debt stock.

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