BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Wednesday that despite the drop in the number of tourists this year compared to previous years, the banking sector in Lebanon saw its customer deposits surge.
“It’s true that Lebanon did not lure sufficient foreign investments, but nevertheless customer deposits surged and the country’s GDP recorded some growth,” Mikati told Al-Arabiya TV on the sideline of the economic summit in Davos, Switzerland.
He said Lebanon’s economy has even surpassed that of some neighboring countries. He added Lebanese expatriates have played a role in boosting real estate investments in their homeland.
Mikati assured that the $56 billion public debt is still manageable, adding that the percentage of foreign debt is gradually declining.
The prime minister argued that Lebanon can reduce the budget deficit by 60 percent if a solution for the electricity crisis is found.
He emphasized that among the ways to reduce the size of the public debt is to make use of the huge properties owned by the state, adding that the value of these has swelled.
He pinned high hopes on the prospects of extracting gas and oil off the Lebanese coast, saying this would cut the public debt and stimulate the economy.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 24, 2013, on page 5.