BEIRUT: Lebanon’s president said Saturday his country will emerge from its difficult economic conditions by making decisions that boost production, and a top politician said politicians will be called for a meeting “to discuss the challenges.”
Michel Aoun’s comments came a day after Fitch Ratings downgraded Lebanon’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to CCC from B-.
Also on Friday, Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings affirmed its long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for Beirut at B-/B, saying the country’s outlook remains negative.
The international rating agency’s downgrade is another blow to the small Arab country’s struggling economy, which suffers one of the world’s highest debt ratios, high unemployment and little growth. Lebanon’s economy has been suffering from the war in neighboring Syria that saw more than a million refugees flee to Lebanon putting pressure on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
Aoun said in remarks at his summer residence that Lebanon’s economic crisis has accumulated for several years, not just the last few. Aoun took office in 2016. His comments were released by his office.
Later in the day, leading politician Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader, told reporters after meeting with Aoun that the “the president will call all officials in the country for a meeting so that we take our responsibilities in facing these challenges.”
Jumblatt said Aoun is taking the matter very seriously and “sees this rating as a danger.” Jumblatt added that “as officials we should take some measure that are unpopular because if we don’t take these measures we might have worse ratings.”
The new ratings came after Moody’s downgraded Lebanon’s issuer ratings to Caa1 from B3 while changing the outlook to stable from negative in January.
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