Hariri 'Very Dismayed' over Some Budget Cuts but 'Won't Resign'
Prime Minister Saad Hariri was “very dismayed” on Friday as parliament started voting on the articles of the 2019 state budget, media reports said.
“He walked out of parliament’s hall before returning and he considers himself to be targeted politically through the budget’s debate, which took aim at several state institutions that are politically loyal to him,” MTV reported.
Radio Voice of Lebanon (93.3) said the premier lamented that he was “targeted” through the budget cuts of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, OGERO, the Interior Ministry and the loans of the High Relief Commission.
“The finance committee endorsed the recommendations of the Justice Ministry and the defense minister without taking into consideration the recommendations of the ministries that are loyal to al-Mustaqbal Movement,” the radio network quoted Hariri as saying.
The network’s correspondent in parliament meanwhile denied reports claiming that Hariri intends to resign.
Ex-PM and Tripoli MP Najib Miqati meanwhile walked out of the session in protest at the cuts targeting the CDR, the Interior Ministry and OGERO.
“There is blatant targeting and it is unacceptable to deal with things in this manner,” he said in a tweet.
The budget is aimed at averting a financial crisis in heavily indebted Lebanon. But it was met with criticism for failing to address structural problems. Instead, the budget mostly cuts public spending and raises taxes.
Despite the criticism, lawmakers began voting on each article of the bill in a closed session on Friday amid scuffles outside between security forces and protesters led by army veterans.