Cabinet Adopts Border Control Strategy, Postpones Budget Debate
The Cabinet on Thursday approved a border control strategy amid the reservations of the Lebanese Forces party, as the debate of the 2020 draft state budget was postponed to a session that will be held on Friday.
Information Minister Jamal al-Jarrah said the strategy aims to “control the border with the neighboring countries.”
“The plan I have submitted involves all the legitimate border crossings and the control and monitoring of our entire border,” Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab said.
Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani of the LF said his party agreed to the plan but voiced reservations because it “does not involve the illegal border crossings.”
“We were hoping the border plan would be broader and more comprehensive,” he added.
And as Jarrah said that the state budget might be finalized in Friday’s session, media reports said Prime Minister Saad Hariri held a meeting after Thursday’s session with a number of ministers to discuss hiking the VAT tax by 1% and the gasoline tax by 3% and the possibility of slashing the salaries of public sector retirees.
Jarrah also noted that the government decided to tax voice calls via internet applications following a suggestion from Telecommunications Minister Mohammed Choucair.
“Users can still send pictures, videos and voice messages without any fees, while a 20-cent tax will be slapped on voice calls and this move will secure around $200 million,” the minister noted.