(Adds quotes, background, Aoun)
BEIRUT, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Lebanon’s Finance Minister and a World Bank official see electricity reform, budget deficit reduction and revenue increases as priorities as the new government prepares its policy statement, the ministry said on Wednesday.
The tasks are among measures Lebanon has agreed to take in return for donors supplying $11 billion in infrastructure investment to help boost its weak economy.
“The two sides discussed the required reforms... giving priority to electricity sector reforms and reducing the budget deficit and raising the level of revenues,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil also said in the meeting that the ministry was ready to discuss the 2019 budget, numbers and details for which are “being reviewed”, the ministry said in a statement.
Following Thursday’s formation of a new government after months of wrangling, President Michel Aoun on Tuesday Tweeted that the period of crisis had passed.
“The crises are behind us and the financial situation is improving and it is expected that the interest rate will fall soon,” he wrote.
The World Bank’s regional director for Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Jordan, Saroj Kumar Jha, who met Khalil, last week told Reuters that power sector reform was “the area where we want to move in very quickly”.
Lebanon has one of the highest public debts in the world, equivalent to around 150 percent of gross domestic product, and subsidies to its electricity sector place “a staggering burden” on public finances, the World Bank said last year.
A new national unity government was agreed on Thursday and it is now preparing a policy statement that it must put before parliament.
The statement will include all the reforms the country promised to make during a meeting last year for international donors to agree on potential investments in Lebanon’s infrastructure, Khalil said on Tuesday.
Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean