Lebanon
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Hariri Vows Strict Austerity Reforms to Avoid Collapse

Prime Minister Saad Hariri warned Wednesday that Lebanon is heading toward an economic "catastrophe" unless the government implements strict austerity measures to reduce a ballooning budget deficit and massive national debt.

The stark warning came shortly after parliament passed amendments necessary to implement an ambitious plan to restructure the country's crumbling electricity sector. Restructuring the power sector, dysfunctional since Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, has been among key demands for reforms by the World Bank and international donors.

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State Employees Protest Possible Salary Cuts as Legislative Session Convenes

Lebanese University teachers, civil servants and the Union Coordination Committee staged a sit-in on Wednesday protesting a government’s proposal to cut their wages as part of measures to reduce spending and slash the budget deficit.

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Report: Khalil Reviews 'Austerity' Budget Plan

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil conducted a comprehensive review of the 2019 state budget after extended meetings with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the most recent was late on Tuesday in the Center house, in the presence of all political factions represented in the government, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.

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Bassil Raises Refugee File, Urges Giving Arab League Seat Back to Syria

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Tuesday urged from Moscow the Arab League to return Syria to its seat and raised calls from Moscow for the repatriation of Syrian refugees from Lebanon, the National News Agency reported.

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Aoun: Judicial Body Not Dependent on Anyone During My Term

President Michel Aoun stressed on Tuesday that “the judicial body is the cornerstone for the establishment of the state and law,” stressing that his term only tolerates an independent judicial authority.

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Lebanon Expresses Solidarity with France after Notre Dame Fire

Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressed sadness over the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in France that he described as a "heritage and humanitarian disaster."

Hariri added in a tweet late Monday that Lebanon expresses strong solidarity with the "friendly French people."

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Report: Govt. 'Mulling' Pay Cuts as It Seeks to Reduce Deficit

The focus of political forces, citizens and trade union bodies continues on the latest debate on reducing the budget deficit, which some government components aim to achieve “at the expense of public sector employees and the investment and operating expenses of the state,” al-Akhbar daily reported on Tuesday.

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Hariri Meets UK Ambassador

Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with British ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling who welcomed the Premier’s strong commitment to tackling the government deficit, and the efforts to reform the electricity sector, the UK embassy said in a press release.

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Bassil Flies to Moscow

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil traveled to Moscow on Monday to take part in the upcoming ministerial session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation forum.

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MP Says Servicemen Not Responsible for Budget Deficit

As reports emerge that the government might cut financial benefits for public sector employees, MP Shamel Roukoz said that servicemen are not responsible for the country’s budget deficit or the waste of public money, stressing that there are others areas to recover funds.

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