BEIRUT, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese MPs expressed on Monday their refusal to the government's plan to cut the wages of public sector employees to reduce the state's budget deficit, local media reported.
"It is not acceptable to reduce the salaries of public sector employees and to hold the Lebanese people responsible for the economic situation prevailing in the country," MP Hadi Abul Hassan was quoted as saying by Elnashra, an online independent newspaper.
Abul Hassan said that if the government is serious about cutting the budget deficit, it should deal properly with tax evasion in addition to restructuring the public sector and inducing Lebanese banks to lend the state at lower interest rates.
Likewise, MP Chamel Roukoz said that the public sector employees and soldiers in the Lebanese army cannot take any reduction in their salaries.
"There are a lot of other sectors that the government can reform to save money including telecom and electricity," he said.
For his part, head of the Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt called upon the government to spare public sector employees from any harsh measures to be taken to reduce the budget deficit.
MP Osama Saad said that reducing salaries of public sector employees will cause social instability that Lebanon cannot bear at all.
MP's remarks came following comments by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil last week saying that unpopular measures will be taken in a bid to reduce the 2019 state budget which was met with strong condemnation by heads of public departments and Lebanese lawmakers.
"If public sector employees do not accept the new measures, the government will stop paying salaries to its employees," Bassil announced during an event last week.
The Lebanese government will convene on Thursday to discuss the 2019 state budget which is expected to be endorsed within the coming few weeks.
Endorsing a state budget that slashes the deficit is among the measures the government has pledged to take as part of key financial and economic reforms recommended at last year's CEDRE Conference.
To curb Lebanon's budget deficit, which has increased to over 11 percent of GDP, the Cabinet will seek to reduce the deficit by 1 percent each year over the next five years by limiting government expenditures.