Khalil Says Deficit Could Have Been Lowered Further
After wrapping up weeks of Cabinet negotiations to slash a ballooning budget deficit, Finance Minister ali Hassan Khalil said on Saturday that the deficit could have been lowered further.
“The deficit could have been lowered more, but that would have required additional burdens on the middle and lower income social classes,” said Khalil via Twitter.
"We have committed ourselves to adopting an extraordinary budget that cuts the deficit to the best possible rate, reorganizes the management of public funds, and strengthens confidence in the state for its citizens and the world," he added.
"The most important thing now is that all political forces and parliamentary blocs unite to show what has been accomplished as a national achievement to boost a comprehensive economic start, not to record political points," he added.
On Friday, Lebanese Cabinet ministers wrapped up weeks of haggling, agreeing on a 2019 draft budget that aims to avert a financial crisis by cutting public spending and reduce a ballooning deficit.
Critics say the proposed measures fail to introduce structural reforms needed to rescue the flagging economy.
Information Minister Jamal Jarrah said the proposals put forward reduce the projected percentage of the deficit compared to the gross domestic product from an estimated 11% last year to around 7.5%.
Reducing the deficit was a key aim through which the government hopes to unlock $11 billion in loans and grants made by international donors at an international conference in Paris last year.