Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Tuesday that Lebanon is going through a tough economic and financial situation but it is not bankrupt.
“We are not a bankrupt country and there is a great willingness to cooperate with the Central Bank in order to manage the financial and banking situation. We are capable to go on and to maintain our stability,” Khalil was quoted as saying by Elnashra, an online independent newspaper.
However, Khalil added that the government and the parliament still have a big responsibility to implement the reform measures in the 2019 state budget.
He noted that the 2019 state budget is only a start for a bigger reform project.
The minister also emphasized the need to increase the government’s revenues by dealing with tax evasion and reform of the electricity sector.
Budget approved by Parliament’s Committee
Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee has approved the draft 2019 budget with a LL500 billion drop ($330 million) in expenditures, its chair said Tuesday night. “The budget has been reduced by around LL500 billion,” Ibrahim Kanaan announced in a tweet. .
The budget, which has already been approved by Cabinet, includes cuts to public spending and tax hikes aiming to slash the deficit, which stood at 11.1 percent of GDP last year. The version approved by Cabinet topped LL23 trillion in spending.
However, the budget has been faced with criticism by local economists who believe that the government did not take serious austerity measures while it could have done a lot more.
The bill now heads to the full Parliament for final amendment and approval.