Bassil Hails 'First Budget that Secures Financial Regularity'


Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Friday said the government has endorsed the “first” state budget in Lebanon's history that “secures financial regularity.”

“We have achieved the first state budget that secures financial regularity. Only the state develops the country and development cannot be seasonal but rather a daily act,” Bassil said during an iftar banquet in the northern city of Tripoli.

“We have kickstarted the course of curbing and lowering the deficit and we will continue it through the subsequent budgets, until we reach a day when the state would fund its projects from its own revenues,” he added.

“Only the state can implement major projects through a rectified state budget,” Bassil went on to say.

He also said that Tripoli has all the assets needed in order to become a platform for rebuilding Syria and Iraq, citing its port, exhibition and the nearby Qlayaat airport.

The Cabinet has held around 18 sessions to finalize the budget and several parties have accused Bassil of hindering the discussions with side proposals.

Proposals he made in Wednesday's session had prompted Prime Minister Saad Hariri to give ministers 48 hours to study them.

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.

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