Lebanon’s parliament passes 2019 state budget: Hariri

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Lebanon’s parliament passed the 2019 state budget on Friday, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said in a live broadcast as his coalition government seeks to bring the public debt under control.

The budget is seen as a critical test of Lebanon's ability to address years of economic mismanagement and corruption that have led it to build up one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP.

“It is an achievement we have managed today,” Hariri said after three days of parliamentary debate on the budget.

However, details of the final budget, including the deficit target, were not released.

The budget plan that his government originally proposed to parliament envisaged a deficit of 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), but the parliament's budget committee said last week it aimed to cut this to 6.6%.

Ibrahim Kanaan, the head of parliament's budget committee, said deficit target numbers would be released on Saturday.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this month called into question the government’s initial deficit target of 7.6% of GDP, estimating that the budget plan would in fact produce a deficit of about 9.75% of GDP.

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