Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri waits to meet with the US Secretary of State at the governmental palace in Beirut on February 15, 2018. / AFP / ANWAR AMRO
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Prime Minister Saad Hariri plans to travel to Paris in April armed with the 2018 budget and a government pledge to carry out urgent reforms in order to secure sufficient funds from donor states and international institutions to finance infrastructure projects.With a public debt of almost $80 billion and an annual fiscal deficit of $5 billion, Hariri and his Cabinet realize that structural reforms should begin as soon as possible before the problem spins out of control.Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil has presented the 2108 draft budget to the Cabinet which did not include additional taxes.Against this backdrop, a ministerial committee headed by Hariri met Thursday to review all the numbers in the supplement of 2018 draft budget and to propose quick and realistic steps to reduce waste in public departments.Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury told The Daily Star there are several proposals on the table to reduce spending and waste before even passing this bill to Parliament for final approval.He added that the most important item in the proposed budget was a call to increase electricity tariffs provided that power becomes available 24 hours a day.Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos assured that no additional taxes would be imposed as part of the 2018 budget.
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