Lebanon has $10 billion plan to rebuild itself


BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The Lebanese government has disclosed a $10 billion plan to rebuild the country from 15 years of civil war, but critics say it is bound to entail a substantial increase in taxes and plunge the country deeper in debt.

It is the first such plan to be proposed by a post-civil-war government since the Lebanese civil war was brought to an end three years ago. Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, the banking and building tycoon behind the plan, called it a "dream that may be difficult to realize," but added: "We are counting on the will of the Lebanese people who are determined to realize it."

Speaking after a Cabinet session Wednesday, the multibillionaire businessman-turned-politician said: "The year 2000 will be a year of balanced growth and prosperity for all. This is a plan for all of Lebanon and all Lebanese."

He is to lead a TV debate this weekend to promote the plan.

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