Middle East

Lebanon revels its first budget in 12 yeas

Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Khalil says the country's first budget in 12 years will have a deficit of $4.85 billion on spending of $15.78 billion. Khalil told reporters on Monday that the country's economic growth in 2017 is expected to be 2 percent.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Khalil says the country's first budget in 12 years will have a deficit of $4.85 billion on spending of $15.78 billion. Khalil told reporters on Monday that the country's economic growth in 2017 is expected to be 2 percent.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)  (The Associated Press)

Lebanon's finance minister says the country's first budget in 12 years will have a deficit of $4.86 billion on spending of $15.78 billion.

Ali Hassan Khalil also told reporters Thursday that Lebanon's economic growth in 2017 is expected to be 2 percent.

Khalil said the government did not put new taxes on the poor, adding that it aims to improve tax collection.

He said Lebanon's debt to GDP ratio is currently 144 percent and the aim is to bring it down to 124 percent in 2022. Lebanon has a debt of about $74 billion.

The budget will have to be approved by parliament.

Political paralysis over the past 12 years following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri have been behind lack of agreements on budgets.