Lebanon Lebanon

Statistical Snapshot

 

Lebanon is a relatively small country with an estimated population of 6.9 million,[1] and a low fertility rate of 2.1 birth per woman.[2] Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees,[3] of which 919,578 are registered refugees by October 2019,[4] in addition to 533,885 Palestinian refugees.[5]

 

In the second half of 2019, an unprecedented and complex economic and financial crisis hit the country. The crisis has taken a heavy toll on the fiscal and external balances and a very high social cost. The Lebanese Pound, pegged since 1993 at 1500 L.L for every USD, is witnessing a significant depreciation in its market value reaching as high as 4200 LBP/USD. While the Lebanese Pound is still officially fixed, the Lebanese government based the estimations of its latest Financial Recovery Plan, released on 30 April 2020, at a rate of 3500 LBP/USD, publicly expressing its intentions to devaluate the Pound and to move to a more flexible exchange rate by adopting a gradual depreciation of the currency at 5 percent per annum to reach 4,297 LBP/$ in 2024.[6]

 

The Lebanese Government Financial Recovery Plan estimates Lebanon’s GDP in 2019 at $49 billion with growth of -6.9 percent, and GDP is forecasted to reach as low as $26 bn in 2020 with a contraction of 13.8 percent. The growth rate is projected to remain negative in 2021 at -4.4% with real GDP reaching $30.2 bn, and it will not register a positive growth before 2022 at +1.6 percent.[6]

 

Lebanon is officially seeking IMF aid to restructure its public debt and contain its twin deficits (a budget and balance of payments deficits). Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio was estimated in 2019 at 175.6 percent according to latest data published by the Ministry of Finance. The Recovery Plan aims to rein in public debt, down to 99.2 percent in 2024, following the adoption of a series of reforms, among which is restructuring the public debt. Additionally, the government is planning to restructure the Central Bank and the banking sector to close the gap in their balance sheets.[6]

 

Inflation, estimated by the Central Administration of Statistics at 2.9 percent in 2019[7], is forecasted to be 53 percent in 2020, 23.3 percent in 2021, and 6.6 percent in 2022. Current account deficit was estimated at 23.9 percent of GDP in 2019 at $11.72 bn and projected to drop to 13.7 percent and 9.4 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively.[6]

 

To achieve fiscal consolidation, the government is planning to take measures to reduce expenditures and enhance revenues, as expressed in its Plan. In addition to the reduction in debt service as a result of a foreseeable restructuring, reduction in expenditures will include limiting the budgetary transfers made to the Electricité du Liban (EDL) and lowering the wage bill by halting recruitment and revisiting employees’ benefits packages, in addition to lowering capital expenditures from 6 percent in 2019 to 2 percent of total expenditures in the 2020 budget. On the other hand, revenue-enhancing measures include improving collection of taxes and increasing VAT, which currently stands at 11 percent.[8] In 2019, the wage bill absorbed 39% of total expenditure, while transfers to EDL and interest payments amounted to 10 percent, and 32 percent of total expenditures, respectively.[9]

 

In addition to IMF aid and advisory assistance, Lebanon continues to strive to access the financial commitments made under CEDRE – the Conference for Economic Development and Reform through Enterprises – especially with regard to infrastructure investment. Government formation and fiscal reforms are needed to unlock CEDRE financing consisting of USD 10.2 billion in loans and USD 860 million in grants.[8]


The economic and financial crisis is affecting the lives of Lebanon’s most vulnerable groups. Up-to-date data is not always available as Lebanon scored 44.4 in the 2019 Statistical Capacity Index of the World Bank, down from 64.4 percent in 2018.[10] Latest figures show that a third of the population live in poverty[11], whereas the Government’s Recovery Plan estimates national poverty at 48 percent. In addition, according to the latest numbers of International Labour Organization (ILO), unemployment rate is expected to double from around 11 percent to 20 percent.[12]


The health system is quite developed despite its flaws, and the Government has been trying to introduce reforms to achieve universal coverage.[13] Life expectancy is high at 78.8 years compared to the regional average of 71.6 years[14], while maternal mortality and infant mortality are low scoring 29 per 100,000 and 6.4 per 1,000 respectively.[2] However, positive health attainment is also the result of personal spending by the Lebanese, for when  general government expenditures on health was estimated at 4.1 percent of the GDP in 2017, out-of-pocket health expenditures amounted to 33.2% of the current health expenditures.[15]

 

COVID-19 response has been constrained by the country’s disintegrating fiscal position. A national solidarity fund is intended to distribute in-kind and cash contributions. The central bank envisioned a facility aimed at getting banks to grant zero interest loans to customers struggling to meet obligations on existing loans.[16]

This overview was last updated in May 2020. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


Sources:

[1] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. 2019. World Population Prospects, Online Edition. Rev. 1. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[2] The World Bank. 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/source/world-development-indicators  [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[3] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Lebanon Operational Environment. [ONLINE] Available at: http://reporting.unhcr.org/node/2520 [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[4] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Operational Portal Refugee Situations: Syria Regional Refugee Response. [ONLINE] Available at: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/71 [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[5] The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). February 2019. UNRWA in Figures 2018-2019. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.unrwa.org/resources/about-unrwa/unrwa-figures-2018-2019 [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[6] Lebanon. Ministry of Finance (2020). Lebanese Government Financial Recovery Plan.  [ONLINE] Available at: http://finance.gov.lb/en-us/EventPdfs/English/The%20Lebanese%20Government's%20Financial%20Recovery%20Plan.pdf
[7] Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), Lebanon. 2020. Consumer price index: Annual average inflation. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/CPI/2019/Yearly_Average_inflation_2019.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[8] Council for Development and Reconstruction, Lebanon. April 2018. Government of Lebanon: Vision for stabilization, growth and employment. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cdr.gov.lb/study/cedre/CedreGoLVisionMarch15.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[9] Republic of Lebanon. Ministry of Finance, Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan. 2019. Citizen Budget Lebanon 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.finance.gov.lb/en-us/Finance/BI/ABDP/Annual Budget Documents and Process/Citizen Budget 2019en.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[10] World Bank. 2018. Statistical Capacity Indicator Dashboard. [ONLINE] Available at: http://datatopics.worldbank.org/statisticalcapacity/SCIdashboard.aspx [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[11] The Word Bank. November 2019. World Bank: Lebanon is in the Midst of Economic, Financial and Social Hardship, Situation Could Get Worse. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/11/06/world-bank-lebanon-is-in-the-midst-of-economic-financial-and-social-hardship-situation-could-get-worse [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[12] International Labour Organization (ILO). 2019. The ILO in Lebanon. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ilo.org/beirut/countries/lebanon/WCMS_526989/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[13] Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon. 2018. Emergency Primary Health Care Restoration Project towards Universal Health Coverage in Collaboration with World Bank. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.moph.gov.lb/en/Pages/6/779/universal-health-coverage-project-lebanon [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[14] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2018. Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2018 Statistical Update. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2018_human_development_statistical_update.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[15] World Health Organization (WHO). Global Health Expenditures Database. 2019. [ONLINE] Available at https://www.who.int/countries/lbn/en/  [Accessed 11 May 2020].
[16] International Monetary Fund (IMF). May 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/imf-and-covid19/Policy-Responses-to-COVID-19#L [Accessed 22 May 2020].

view all

Data Highlights

  • The health system is quite developed with a high life expectancy of 79.5 years in 2015 and low levels of maternal mortality and infant mortality, reaching 15 per 100,000 and 7.1 per 1,000, respectively.

view all

Publications