Lebanon’s finance minister set to retain post – senior official

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil is due to retain his position in the new national unity government, a senior Lebanese official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Lebanon is on track to form a new cabinet in the next few days, raising hopes after months of wrangling that has hurt the outlook for its struggling economy.

More than seven months since a parliamentary election, Lebanon’s politicians have yet to agree a deal on the government as officials warn of economic crisis.

Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri’s efforts have faced conflicting demands for cabinet seats which must be parcelled out based on a delicate sectarian system.

Khalil, a top aide to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, told Reuters on Tuesday the process was “in the last phase”. Berri’s Amal party is allied to the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.

The stagnant economy will be a top priority for the next government. Heavily indebted, Lebanon needs an administration that can set about long-stalled reforms to put public debt on a sustainable footing.

Lebanon is the world’s third-most indebted nation with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150 percent.

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