Beirut-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said that endorsing
the state budget tops the list of government’s goals, adding any new tax
would take into consideration interests of both citizens and the
economic sectors. Hariri said that approving the ranks and salaries scale should be
linked to administrative reforms and ensuring financial resources to
finance them. Speaking to a delegation from the economic bodies headed by former
Minister Adnan Kassar, the Prime Minister said that a package of taxes
and fees made headlines in the past few days, as it is expected to
overwhelm citizens -mainly those with limited income-, and some sectors,
including the banking sector.
The PM clarified that ongoing discussions on new taxes and fees in
the cabinet, will secure the balance between interests of citizens and
different economic sectors, and will ensure additional resources to
finance the budget. Hariri also noted that the country is battling hard economy
conditions, and the government aims to hold a practical discussion to
define the taxes and fees that should be applied, with the least impact
on the economic growth and on the low-income class.
He added that discussions held in the cabinet are open to reach a
balance between the needs of the private sector, citizens and the state.
On the other hand, there is a package of incentives to motivate the
private sector, which will likely be included in the draft state budget. Hariri said that approving the ranks and salaries scale is being
studied by the cabinet; in case it is approved, it should be linked to
administrative reforms and suitable financial resources to finance them.
Without reforms and commitment to implement them, the ranks and
salaries scale cannot be approved, as it is not possible to increase
wages without improving productivity in the public sector and activating
As for increasing the electricity tariff, Hariri said: “I personally
believe that it is not permissible to increase the tariff before
increasing and improving electricity hours.” The Prime Minister concluded by saying that the government works on
developing a new plan to deal with the Syrian refugee issue; it intends
to benefit from the international support to develop the infrastructure
used by the displaced Syrians especially roads, schools, universities,
hospitals, electricity and water sectors.
Former Minister Adnan Kassar said that the visit to Hariri comes as
part of the continuous consultation in all national issues. He revealed
that the meeting focused on the economic situation in light of the
cabinet’s discussion of the 2017 draft budget and the government’s
The delegation praised the dynamism and vitality of the work of the
government headed by Hariri and its efforts to control economic,
socio-economic matters and security matters. They considered that the
cabinet has been eager to approve the first budget since 12 years.
Hariri showed understanding of the concerns of the economic bodies
regarding new taxes to finance the budget deficit, which would lead to
further strains on the national economy. This economy already suffers
from sharp recession driven by crises that emerged with the beginning of
the presidential vacuum in 2014 and that persist due to the absence of
The delegation told Hariri that the first step to finance the budget
deficit would be to stop the rampant waste in state institutions,
improve tax collection and end squandering in public institutions. All
this would be essential to the reform that has become urgent in light of
the growing corruption.