Following the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail, Acting Minister of Information Wael Abu Faour read the following official information:
"The cabinet held a meeting at the Grand Serail chaired by Prime Minister Hariri to continue the discussion that began yesterday at the Presidential Palace during the budget session.
At the beginning of the meeting, Premier Hariri stressed the importance of this discussion and invited everyone to shoulder their responsibilities. He added that we could use the discussion on the 2019 budget as a basis for discussion, but he asked us to go further in the reform measures. He warned against returning to the endless discussions that took place during the previous budget debate. He also called for intensive and successive sessions to approve the budget and meet constitutional deadlines, and even to be ahead of constitutional deadlines to give the necessary positive impression.
He assured that if the Minister of Finance has set a percentage of the deficit, we must strive to reduce it further. According to the President of the Council, all the political forces gathered in the Council of Ministers bear a great responsibility in these difficult economic and financial conditions, but he hoped that the discussion on the budget, the reform measures and the launching of major projects will lead to resolve the economic and financial situation.
Then the Minister of Finance gave a more detailed explanation than the one he presented yesterday. He said he started reading the proposals submitted by the parliamentary blocs. Yesterday, a proposal from the block Strong Lebanon began to be examined.
Other political forces also said they have suggestions and ideas that would be presented in writing, including the Lebanese Forces. It was agreed that the basis of the discussion would be in accordance with the document presented by the Minister of Finance, who is authorized to submit the budget to the Council of Ministers.
The Minister of Finance will review other ideas positively and submit them to the Council of Ministers for discussion to take advantage of new ideas.
The debate focused on the budget articles and 14 of the 32 articles were approved. We reached Article 15. Prime Minister Hariri asked us to have a more in-depth discussion on Monday during the Cabinet meeting at 4 pm, and ministers will of course be invited by the secretariat of the Council of Ministers. Article 16 was discussed in a preliminary way and was not approved.
Question: Was the electricity article discussed?
Abu Faour: It was discussed and the proposal was to ask for 1.5 trillion as an advance from treasury, but some ministers felt that we might need a bigger advance. When we finished the budget discussion, we discussed the quarries plan agreed yesterday.
What I can confirm about the atmosphere in the Council of Ministers is that everyone is aware of the economic and financial reality and acts with positive logic.
The discussions that took place were positive. This time, I can confirm that we benefited from the discussions that took place in previous budget sessions, and things are encouraging and reassuring.
Question: Has the gasoline crisis been discussed?
Abu Faour: No, this question has not been discussed yet. But on the quarries master plan, the Minister of the Environment has been very positive in today's debate. The basic logic is to preserve the environment, so we agree with him on this point.
Question: Does this mean that you overcame the tension with Minister Ghassan Atallah?
Abu Faour: It was not a topic of discussion.
Source: National News Agency