The plan to reduce the deficit within the 2019 state budget has been finalized, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said in remarks to local daily Al Joumhouria published Tuesday.
“We have put the finishing touches on the budget reduction project, which aims primarily at reducing the deficit to no more than 9 percent of the GDP,” Khalil said.
He noted that Lebanon had agreed on this goal with international institutions and suggested that the deficit could be reduced this year by as much as 2.5 percentage points.
Reducing the deficit-to-GDP ratio – which reached 10 percent in 2018 – by 1 percentage point every year over five years was one of the key pledges Lebanon made at last year’s CEDRE conference in Paris, where donor countries committed donations of more than $11 billion, which Lebanon can unlock after it makes a series of key reforms.
As a potential step to reduce the deficit, Khalil Monday submitted to Cabinet a draft law to remove all tax exemptions in Lebanon’s Customs law, except for those mandated by international treaties and conventions, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The NNA described the move as a “positive step” to control increasing imports to Lebanon and clamp down on tax fraud.
The 2019 state budget is still waiting to be passed, having been held up for 254 days during the Cabinet void, which ended Jan. 31. It is now currently waiting to be discussed and approved by Cabinet ministers, who will then submit it to Parliament for endorsement.
Khalil had told Al Joumhouria Friday that discussions on the budget would begin this week.
The Daily Star