Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Justice Minister Salim Jreissati were two of the only Cabinet members present at Wednesday's Parliament session. (Mohamad Azakir/The Daily Star)
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Prime Minister Saad Hariri Wednesday hit back at MPs who criticized his Cabinet's performance, saying his government was the most productive in recent years, as Parliament wrapped up two days of discussions and prepared to ratify a state budget for the first time in over a decade.Following speeches by Hariri and Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil at the end of the evening session, MPs voted late Wednesday night on a Cabinet's expedited draft law that permits Parliament to endorse the state budget before an audit of past years' extra-budgetary spending.Hariri lashed out at MPs who used the budget sessions for political purposes ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.Hariri emphasized that the ratification of the state budget would restore confidence in the country.Describing the 2017 budget as a "modest" one, Khalil said: "Political circumstances have allowed an agreement on the ratification of the state public budget".He was referring to a political settlement reached during a Cabinet session chaired by President Michel Aoun last month, under which Parliament would ratify the state budget without the audit but the government would conduct one within an agreed time limit.
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