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Cabinet Finally Approves Draft State Budget, Sends It to Parliament

May 28

Cabinet Finally Approves Draft State Budget, Sends It to Parliament

The Cabinet on Monday approved the 2019 draft state budget after weeks of haggling, during a session that was held under President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace.

The draft was referred to Parliament which is expected to study it and approve it in a speedy manner.

“We are before an extraordinary transformation in terms of lowering expenditure and boosting revenues,” Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said after the session.

“Spending reached the LBP 23,340 billion mark in addition to a LBP 2,500 billion loan for electricity,” he added.

“There are decisions and recommendations to put into implementation a host of measures regarding the control of customs revenues,” Khalil went on to say.

He also noted that no changes were introduced to the draft after Friday's session at the Grand Serail and that the deficit was slashed to 7.59%.

“As a Finance Ministry, we will seek to maintain this deficit rate,” Khalil added.

LBCI TV meanwhile said that the Lebanese Forces voiced reservations over figures related to the revenues of telecommunications, the Port of Beirut, seaside properties and tax evasion.

The Cabinet held 19 sessions to finalize the budget and several parties accused Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil of hindering the discussions with side proposals.

Lebanon has vowed to slash public spending to unlock $11 billion worth of aid pledged by international donors during an April 2018 conference in Paris.

Last month, Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed to introduce 'the most austere budget in Lebanon's history' to combat the country's bulging fiscal deficit.

Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries, with public debt estimated at 141 percent of GDP in 2018, according to credit ratings agency Moody's.