Lebanon's budget gap (including Treasury transactions) widened 76% y/y to LBP 3.952tn (USD 2.63bn) in the first eight months of 2013 due to falling income and rising spending, mainly on salaries and debt servicing, daily Al-akhbar reported on October 24, citing a statement by the finance ministry. The latter has not released an official breakdown yet. The deficit equalled 29% of total spending over the period, up from 19% the previous year.
Total budget proceeds dropped 2.1% y/y to LBP 9.695tn, whereas spending rose 12.3% to LBP 13.647tn. Excluding debt servicing, spending increased to LBP 10.124tn in January-August from LBP 8.717tn a year earlier. The budget, thus, recorded a LBP 429bn primary deficit over the period compared with a LBP 1.187tn primary surplus the year before.
Telecom receipts shrank 15.9% to LBP 1.208tn. All tax and non-tax receipts dropped both in the first eight months and in August alone on weak tourism activity and retreating imports and other services income.
Caretaker finance minister Mohammed Safadi has recently warned that the budget deficit would reach LBP 5.5tn by end-2013 and might expand further in 2014 if no measures were taken to boost revenue.
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