Khalil Optimistic, Says Parliamentary Committee Will Soon Finish Budget Discussions


Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the Finance and Budget parliamentary committee will soon finish discussing the country’s draft 2019 state budget “if the talks continue to progress at the same pace,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday.

“Things are going normal in the finance committee, I think if we continue this pace of work the draft budget will be finished in a short period of time,” Khalil told the daily.

To a question on whether the reduced deficit could rise above 7.59 percent after the changes made by the committee lawmakers to some budget articles, he said what matters is to keep it at less than 9 percent.

“The main goal is to reach a deficit less than that of 2018 budget, which hit 11.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) may rise or drop slightly from 7.59 percent but the important thing is that we now have a deficit below 9 percent. Certainly the less the better,” said Khalil.

On fears that Lebanon’s economic and financial situation faces “unappealing” conditions, the Minister appeased concerns.

He said: “The financial situation is not worrisome...things will stay under control as long as the deficit stays under 9 percnet.”

Lebanon’s Finance and Budget parliamentary committee resumes its meetings on Monday to discuss the state budget draft.

Committee sources said they expect to conclude this mission before the end of this month. A general parliament session will then be held to approve the draft reportedly in the first week of July.

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