The deficit reduction achieved in the 2019 state budget is a victory for all Lebanese people, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Saturday evening, according to a statement from his office.
“The percentage of deficit reduction is a message to all: to Lebanese, to the economic sector, to the financial markets and our friends in the international community,” he said during an iftar dinner held at the Seaside Arena.
Ministers approved the draft 2019 state budget on Friday after 19 sessions dedicated to its discussion. Information Minister Jamal Jarrah, who speaks on behalf of Cabinet after every session, said that they had managed to reduce the deficit to 7.5 percent of the GDP, down from more than 11 percent in 2018.
Reducing the budget deficit was one of the key pledges the Lebanese government made at the 2018 CEDRE donor conference, in return for more than $11 billion in soft loans and grants from international contributors.
The message sent by the budget’s austerity measures reducing the deficit, Hariri said, “is that the Lebanese government is determined to address the imbalance, weakness and squander in the public sector and insists on the highest level of transparency in implementing the CEDRE program.”
A Cabinet session is set to be held at Baabda Palace in the coming days, likely Monday, where President Michel Aoun will endorse the budget before it is sent to Parliament for study and ratification.
Nonetheless, Hariri pointed out that the 2019 budget is “only the beginning” of a path that will set Lebanon on the right track financially, and the government must continue to make reforms in order to avoid “the danger zone.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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