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IN BRIEF

Economic news recap: Here’s what happened last week in Lebanon

We bring you up to speed.

Economic news recap: Here’s what happened last week in Lebanon

(Credit: Sandrine Frem & Pao Ibrahim/L'Orient Today)

- A Court of Audit report concerning tax stamps in Lebanon revealed that licensed distributors of stamps had illicitly made $20 million in profit over two years, exploiting an “orchestrated” shortage of stamps in the country.

Citizens are typically required to attach these stamps to various official documents as proof of fulfilling necessary tax obligations. The report’s authors proposed several immediate actions to rectify the market, including initiating a tender for implementing electronic stamps in place of the current ones in circulation.

- The number of new construction permits has decreased by 3.6 percent in the first four months of 2024, compared to the same period last year, according to the latest issue of Byblos Bank’s Lebanon This Week Report. Figures shared by the Orders of Engineers and Architects of both Beirut and Tripoli reveal that 3,575 permits have been issued in 2024, compared to 3,708 permits in the same period in 2023.

The Order of Engineers issued 935 permits in April 2024 – this marks an increase of 21.7 percent compared to the 768 permits granted in March 2024 and 56.4 percent from the 598 issued in April 2023.

Of the newly issued permits, 28.6 percent were recorded across Mount Lebanon. Meanwhile, the South recorded 22 percent, the North 18 percent, Nabatieh 13.3 percent, the Bekaa region 12 percent, and Beirut 4 percent.

- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD, partly owned by the European Union) estimated that Lebanon's GDP could increase by 0.2 percent in 2024, a mid-point between the most optimistic and pessimistic projections.

“GDP is expected to grow by 0.2 percent in 2024, held back by geopolitical risk, political inaction and stalled reforms. Growth could accelerate to three percent in 2025, if regional tensions ease, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program is put in place and progress is made in implementing reforms,” the EBRD estimated.

In April, The World Bank estimated that Lebanese GDP would grow by 0.5 percent, while at the end of March, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) expected a contraction of 0.9 percent over the same period. The IMF has yet to make any projections.

- Prices of gasoline, diesel and heating oil have continued to drop this week, as seen in the the latest numbers published by the Energy and Water Ministry. The price of a domestic gas cylinder remains unchanged, however.

Here are the new prices:

- A Court of Audit report concerning tax stamps in Lebanon revealed that licensed distributors of stamps had illicitly made $20 million in profit over two years, exploiting an “orchestrated” shortage of stamps in the country. Citizens are typically required to attach these stamps to various official documents as proof of fulfilling necessary tax obligations. The report’s authors proposed...