BEIRUT: 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. Committee member Yassine Jaber told The Daily Star the drop might allow the government to reduce Lebanon’s debt to as low as 6.7 percent of gross domestic product.
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.
Jaber said a 2 percent tax hike on imports would be changed to 3 to 7 percent on around 15,000 items such as “luxury goods.”
The committee has been meeting regularly since June 10 to examine the budget. Certain controversial items had reportedly been postponed until Tuesday evening’s session. The bill now heads to the full Parliament for final amendment and approval.
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