Tension Inside Lebanese Cabinet on Eve of Final Budget Reading

Wednesday, 22 May, 2019 - 07:00 -

Tension Inside Lebanese Cabinet on Eve of Final Budget Reading

  • A
  • A
Cabinet session held on Tuesday at the Grand Serail (NNA)
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat
The Lebanese government will make Wednesday a final reading of the 2019 draft budget before approving it and referring it to parliament amid political tension among political parties represented in the cabinet.

“The government is called upon to resolve the existing polarization inside and outside the cabinet,” the Mustaqbal Movement warned in a statement following its weekly meeting on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil will hold a press conference to discuss the budget.

“A final reading of the state budget will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon at the Grand Serail,” State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mahmoud Qmati said on Tuesday.

For his part, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, said: “I am pleased with the results. Today we complete the discussions, and I do not want to talk about the upcoming phase.”

However, a dispute has emerged between Free Patriotic Movement ministers and others, mainly Hassan Khalil, in light of long discussions on the draft budget, which took 17 cabinet sessions.

"For me and for the Finance Ministry, the draft budget is over. The final fees approved will not have any material impact on this budget and there is no need for further talks and for further delays,” Khalil said before attending Tuesday’s cabinet session, which was chaired by Hariri.

However, FPM leader Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not share the Finance Minister’s views. “The draft budget will be over when it is over. There is no deadline,” he said.

Discussions on the budget have taken place amid protests by public and private sector employees on austerity measures aimed at limiting state expenditures for 2019.

Mustaqbal Movement said the bloc is satisfied with the results of the cabinet discussions, “especially in terms of announcing the measures and policies aimed at reducing the budget deficit and ending waste in various ministries, and the importance of assigning the army and security forces to control the illegal crossings and prevent smuggling."

Observers expect tension among lawmakers during discussions of the draft budget in Parliament.

Multimedia