Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks at a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, on Oct. 21, 2019. Saad Hariri announced on Monday his long-awaited economic plan following five days of nationwide demonstrations against the government's policies, Al Manar local TV Channel reported. (Dalati & Nohra/Handout via Xinhua)
BEIRUT, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced on Monday his long-awaited economic plan following five days of nationwide demonstrations against the government's policies, Al Manar local TV Channel reported.
Among the most important reforms announced by Hariri is the 2020 state budget with 0.6 percent deficit, a reduction in the salaries of ministers and parliament members by 50 percent, a reduction in the budgets of the Council for Development and Reconstruction and other public institutions.
Also, Hariri said that the government will provide healthcare for the elderly, and inject an additional 20 billion Lebanese pounds (13.2 million U.S. dollars) for the support of the most vulnerable people, in addition to constructing power stations and reducing 50 percent of the electricity's deficit in 2020 while allocating 165 million dollars for housing loans.
Hariri emphasized the need to implement CEDRE which unlock 11 billion dollars in loans and donations for Lebanon.
The prime minister also assured that ministries won't do any investments and the government will rely on foreign investments in a bid to stop money squandering in the year 2020.
The government has also agreed not to impose new taxes on citizens with the central bank and commercial banks contributing to a great extend in reducing the state's budget deficit.
Hariri addressed people protesting in the streets that he is keen on protecting their dignity by providing basic services, such as proper healthcare, education and social security.
Hariri also said that he is ready to go for early parliamentary elections if this is what people in the streets are looking for.
The protesters' reaction towards Hariri's announcements is still unclear, according to Al Manar.
It said that some people are willing to give the government some time to implement the new measures, while others said they prefer to stay in the streets until they see concrete results.
Hariri came up with the economic plan, which he discussed with political parties in his cabinet, following nationwide demonstrations by over 1.2 million Lebanese citizens since Thursday, calling for the resignation of the government while accusing it of being corrupted and adopting policies that led to people's impoverishment by burdening them with more taxes.
The government is trying to pass the 2020 state budget by adopting austerity measures aimed at reducing the budget deficit which has reached 11.4 percent of GDP.
The successive governments did not opt in the past 30 years for serious plans and strategies that would increase the treasury's revenues while reducing its expenses, which led to a hike in public debt to an alarming level.
Hariri had given his partners in the government 72 hours to agree on his economic paper while threatening to resign from the government if the various political parties oppose to his reform measures.
Political parties showed positive stance towards Hariri's economic plan except for the Lebanese Forces ministers who submitted their resignation a day earlier.