Parliament Holds Second Session to Discuss Draft Budget

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Parliament Holds Second Session to Discuss Draft Budget

The Parliament convened on Wednesday for the second day in a row to discuss the 2019 draft state budget, as MPs are set to meet on Thursday as well in morning and evening sessions.

The sessions are tackling financial accounts for the previous years and are aimed at reducing the deficit to at most 7.6 percent of GDP, down from 11.1 percent in 2018.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri affirmed that the Cabinet will convene next week, speaking to reporters after meeting with Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, Industry Minister Wael Abu Faour, Public Works and Transportation Minister Youssef Fenianos and MP Hasan Fadlallah on the sidelines of the Parliament session.

The Premier noted that he is working on a solution to Qabr Shamoun incident and that “things are moving in a positive direction,” as reported by LBCI TV channel.

“The Minister of Labor is implementing the law when it comes to the Palestinian workers; he might have taken stringent measures in certain matters but he is coordinating with the Palestinian ambassador to resolve the issue,” Hariri conveyed.

Sources told LBCI that the majority of lawmakers seem to agree on a measure that will include 3% Value-Added Tax (VAT) on several imported goods.

Independent MP Paula Yaacoubian was the first lawmaker to take the podium on Wednesday’s morning session reiterating her refusal to vote for the budget.

Yaacoubian criticized her fellow lawmakers’ compliance with recommendations on austerity from international financial organizations.

“If only you feared the anger of the people as much as you fear the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” she said hailing the Finance and Budget Committee’s efforts in reducing the deficit.

“You are compelled to reduce the deficit to receive the CEDRE aids and you simply wish to preserve clientelism at the same time. This might be a tricky dilemma,” Yaacoubian reproached.