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Lebanon: Berri Calls For Finalizing Budget Within 2 Days

Lebanon: Berri Calls For Finalizing Budget Within 2 Days

Thursday, 17 October, 2019 - 10:15
Speaker Nabih Berri during his meetings on Wednesday (NNA)

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri underlined the need for the concerned officials to finalize the budget and reform files in order to adopt the 2020 budget within the constitutional deadlines.

In remarks on Wednesday during his bloc’s weekly meeting in Ain el-Tineh, Berri said: “Why are we in a state of denial as if we were not suffering from a financial, economic and social crisis,” despite the unanimous consensus over a series of reforms that would include the budget, the electricity and other issues.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Saad Hariri discussed with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil the overall political and economic situation in the country, according to the Prime Minister’s page via Twitter.

The meeting, held at the Grand Serail, came amid reports of differences in views between the political blocs on the files linked to government measures regarding the budget.

Political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the foreign minister “was not accurate in conveying Hezbollah's position to Hariri.”

The sources said: “Bassil communicated with Hezbollah, and the party informed him that it supported increasing taxes on luxuries, provided that the list of luxuries is agreed upon; but Bassil did not convey this position to Hariri. Instead, he told him that the party refused to increase the VAT by 1 percent on luxuries.”

The sources said that the party considered that Bassil was not accurate in conveying the content of the conversation.

“Hezbollah agrees to raise the VAT by 1 percent, provided that it is applied on luxury goods,” said Hezbollah Minister Mohammad Fneish. “Taxes on the low-income class will not be accepted,” he emphasized.

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