The Cabinet deliberations on the draft budget were overshadowed by a split among lawmakers over financing the salary hike motion.
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Prime Minister Saad Hariri Friday stepped in for the second day in a row to reassure both the Lebanese that there would be no new taxes and civil servants that the public sector's salary scale bill would eventually be approved by Parliament despite growing street protests against proposed taxes to cover it.Speaking after chairing a Cabinet session, Hariri said he would coordinate with President Michel Aoun for a meeting at Baabda Palace during which the 2017 draft budget would be endorsed.The Cabinet again failed Friday to endorse the draft budget as it had promised, further delaying the final ratification by Parliament of the fiscal plan for the first time in 12 years. Hariri dismissed as "lies" rumors on new taxes on bread and other items. He said ministers were discussing the draft budget in a positive manner, adding that the fiscal plan would be endorsed soon at a Cabinet session to be chaired by Aoun at Baabda Palace.Today, 12 years without a budget, we have met to endorse it for the benefit of citizens," Hariri said. He added that the Cabinet Friday reviewed the draft budget provisions before sending the final version to all ministers. Lawmakers, however, approve a host of taxes.
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