Report: Bassil’s 12 Suggestions that Pushed Budget Approval Until Friday

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As the government was finalizing its budget discussions during a session on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil made 12 suggestions to include in the budget and slash the deficit which pushed its approval until Friday, media reports said on Thursday.

Bassil had insisted that his proposal constitutes an “opportunity” to take advantage of the largest reduction in deficit rate, which Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil strongly opposed because “we are short on time,” al-Joumhouria daily reported.

According to the daily, Bassil raised the issues of:

- Measure No 3 which was referred to Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab, Interior Minister Raya Hassan and head of the Internal Security Forces.

-Subjecting Banque du Liban to interest tax.

-Setting a ceiling for educational grants - reducing high salaries - stopping the scales or their financial effect - abolishing illegal public employment that violated law No 46- closing the country’s illegal crossings, controlling the borders, stopping tax evasion and reducing the contributions - fees on yachts, raising the tax on sand and gravel from 1000 to 15,000 Lebanese pounds.

-An additional reduction in the budgets of ministries of health, social affairs, youth and sports.

Bassil announced his willingness to slash the budget of his ministry by LBP10 billion, and he urged for the abolition of the ministry of the displaced, according to the daily.

Media reports said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri was “dismayed” by Bassil’s proposals and addressed him saying: “Do you want to trigger a social revolution.”

On Wednesday, the Cabinet failed anew to finalize the 2019 state budget and will hold another session on Friday to continue the discussions.

The session reportedly witnessed "heated discussions over what some ministers described as time waste in discussing and approving the state budget."

Information Minister Jamal al-Jarrah said new proposals were raised during the session, prompting Hariri to give the ministers a 48-hour timeframe to study them.

The Cabinet has held around 17 sessions to finalize the budget and several parties have accused 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, Hariri vowed to introduce "the most austere budget in Lebanon's history" to combat the country's bulging fiscal deficit, sparking fears among public sector employees that their salaries may be cut.

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.

SourceNaharnet
Comments 7
Missing un520 23 May 2019, 09:58

Some of these suggestions by Mr Bassil are not that bad, really. Like abolishing illegal public employment, a ceiling for educational grants - reducing high salaries, closing the country’s illegal crossings, controlling the borders, stopping tax evasion,fees on yachts, raising the tax on sand and gravel.
I have a feeling that the measures taken so far is not enough.

Thumb lubnani.masi7i 23 May 2019, 11:25

He is just showboating! Illegal crossings are controlled by his shia ally hezbollah and he knows well there is nothing that can be done about them. Additionally, the minister of defense is an FPM member so he should control/close those crossings.

Thumb warrior 23 May 2019, 11:47

more demagoguery from Ali Baba. He submitted his suggestions during the final and 12th session of the cabinet budget review meetings and not during the first session.

Thumb galaxy 23 May 2019, 16:39

It is 17 sessions so far:)

Thumb lebanon_first 23 May 2019, 14:38

Thank you Gebran, for calling what should be done.

Enough communist Amal running the country.

Why should measure 3 be implemented? Are we at war?

Why all the 5000 useless employees on our account???? 5000 big egoed useless civil servants who think we owe them to indebt our children to feed their asses. Kick them out. Let them fight their way into the private sector.

Thumb whyaskwhy 23 May 2019, 19:18

Calling for things in Lebanon is like speech making Leb 1st. Consider this how many years have Jubran and his Syrian masters been in power? long enough to have implemented these changes if they were going to them years ago. Secondly although hes right about Berrys employment agency hes stating a fact is not doing anything about it as its part of his ongoing rhetorical war with Berry. Third these "austere proposed measures" are not going to change the status quo and will be rejected by those who want the status quo to continue that are Imbeciles partners in government. So no sorry Imbecile did not rock the wold with his statement its just another speech equal to the bearded goats or papa of all in Baabda that would be forgotten by the weekend.

Thumb Mrknowitall 23 May 2019, 14:50

Why didn't the minister of obstruction and time wasting mini Tullius Détritus not
propose his 12 "Suggestions" from the beginning three months ago.