Lebanon's Hariri hopes government will be finalised on Friday
December 21 2018 06:24 PM
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri gestures as he speaks during a conference in Beirut
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri gestures as he speaks during a conference in Beirut

Reuters/Beirut

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said he hoped to finalise a new national unity government on Friday after more than seven months of political wrangling.
Lebanese politicians have indicated a government deal is close but have yet to announce a final agreement.
"Cross your fingers, don't jinx me. I'm trying to work very hard to finalize today the government, Inshallah (God Willing). There are still some things to be done but I think we should be able to finalize," he told a news conference.
"God willing we will finish today."
Efforts to form the government have been obstructed by conflicting demands for cabinet seats that must be parcelled out in line with a sectarian power-sharing system.
Heavily indebted and suffering from a stagnant economy, Lebanon is in dire need of an administration that can set about long-stalled reforms to put public debt on a sustainable footing.
Hariri said everyone was committed to reforms and said the government would try to bring down the subsidy it pays on energy by about $600 million in 2019.
Lebanon has the third larges debt-to-GDP ratio in the world.
Hariri also said a second round of bidding for Lebanese off-shore energy exploration should be open in February or March, adding that BP "is interested and the Americans are interested".
Lebanon's first round of exploration began in May after authorities approved an exploration plan submitted by a consortium of France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek.



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