ECONOMY

Lebanese government to hold final budget session on Friday

Lebanon Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. (Reuters)

The Lebanese government will hold a final session to discuss the draft state budget on Friday, the information minister said.

Several government ministers had said Wednesday’s session would be the last. However, Information Minister Jamal Jarrah said new proposals had been tabled that required further study.

“The session on Friday, at 1:30 p.m (1030 GMT), will God willing be the final one,” he said.

He said the deficit had now been reduced to 7.5% of GDP from 7.6% announced earlier in the week.

Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens, at 150% of GDP.

Final agreement has been complicated by a dispute between Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

Khalil said on Tuesday the budget was completed. But al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Bassil saying his party was not satisfied with the draft and a deficit of 7% could be “easily” achieved.

Jarrah denied reports of clashes in cabinet and said “a calm, objective and bold discussion” had taken place.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri had given a 48-hour window for discussion of new ideas tabled by ministers at Wednesday’s sesison, Jarrah said. “The session on Friday will God willing be the final one,” he said.

“Why don’t we give ourselves 48 hours? If the deficit can be brought down from 7.5% to 7.4% or 7.3%, then why not?”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 22 May 2019 KSA 19:05 - GMT 16:05
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