Report: Bassil’s 12 Suggestions that Pushed Budget Approval Until Fridayإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
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.