Central Bank governor Riad Salameh speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Lebanon plans to sell up to $2 billion in Eurobonds over the next year, Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh said, part of a debt-swap aimed at reducing servicing costs in the world's third most indebted country. The country held its first parliamentary election in nine years Sunday, and Salameh said it was important that the next government take action to revive the economy, which has been battered by sectarian conflict and the war in Syria.Hobbled by political turmoil and an influx of refugees from the war in neighboring Syria, Lebanon has struggled for years to revive its economic fortunes.Lebanon carried out a similar swap in 2016, offering Lebanese banks incentives to buy up some of that debt in an unconventional move criticized as risky by some economists. Salameh said incentives were not needed this time and the Central Bank hopes to scale back such programs as the government's position improves and the pressures of the war in Syria ease.The rest – $27 billion out of $80 billion – is held by the Central Bank. Lebanon is the second-biggest holder of gold in the Middle East, Salameh said.
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