On the day Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s 72-hour deadline is about to expire, the Cabinet met on Monday to discuss the 2020 State budget and the PM’s economic blueprint that includes a set of reforms with no new taxes.
During the meeting held at the Baabda Palace, Hariri indicated that the attending ministers discussed and approved the state budget for 2020 and his proposal which would reduce the deficit to 0.6% of GDB.
Hariri promised that banks will be part of the deficit-reduction plan, noting that an agreement was reached over the cut of former and current lawmakers and ministers’ salaries by 50%.
He also pledged that a law to reimburse stolen public funds will be established. In addition, an analysis to privatize telecoms sector will be conducted, proclaiming the elimination of Information Ministry and other governmental bodies.
“The decisions that we have taken might not fulfill your demands, but they fulfill what I have been calling for. I will not allow anyone to scare you, and it's the government's duty to protect your peaceful demands,” Hariri told protesters, underline their right to leave the streets when they want to.
President Michel Aoun stated on Twitter that street protests are a manifestation of people’s pain.
He considered that accusing all political leaders of being corrupt is unfair, proposing lifting banking secrecy on present and future ministers’ accounts.
During the Cabinet meeting, a heated exchange was reported between ministers from the Free Patriotic Movement, notably Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, with the two Progressive Socialist Party ministers Education Minister Akram Chehayeb and Industry Minister Wael Abu Faour over the flippant economic blueprint suggestions, which led the meeting to be halted twice.
Ministers dropped their usual vast accompanying convoys for camouflaged cars instead to reach the meeting.
Lebanese Forces’ four ministers were absent from the session as they have resigned yesterday.
The Premier held talks with Aoun ahead of the Cabinet session.