Lebanon’s plan to bring its budget deficit back into single digits is a step in the right direction, but it needs to regain market access to keep default concerns at bay, Fitch’s rating analyst said on Thursday. Heavily indebted Lebanon’s government approved a 2019 budget on Monday including deep spending cuts to narrow its projected deficit to 7.6% from 11% of gross domestic product (GDP) and stave off a financial crisis. Fitch put a ‘negative outlook’ – effectively a downgrade warning – on its ‘junk’ B- Lebanon rating in December. Fitch expects Lebanon’s 2019 deficit to be around 9%, higher than the government’s forecast.
Lebanon’s Telecommunications Ministry has ordered the blocking of the popular dating application Grindr, used mainly by gay men and trans men, saying it facilitates meetings between bisexuals or people of the same sex. Amnesty International on Wednesday called the decision “a deeply regressive step, and a blow” to the LGBTQ community in Lebanon. The ministry’s decision was issued Friday. It asked internet service providers to block the application and associated website
A French soldier has died from injuries sustained last year while deployed in Lebanon, the French army announced Tuesday. Erwan Potier, 23, from the French town of Senlis, died on May 21 as a result of injuries he suffered in a February 2018 accident while on an operation in a lightly armored vehicle along the Blue Line, the U.N.-demarcated border between Israel and Lebanon.
At the time of the incident, Potier was serving with the Spanish battalion of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the south, UNIFIL. He was then repatriated to France for treatment at a military hospital in Percy, in the north, before being admitted to a specialist facility in June 2018.