Hasbani heads a meeting in Beirut, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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A nine-member ministerial committee tasked with studying the draft state budget's provisions appeared Thursday to be in a race against time to wrap up the country's 2018 fiscal plan in time for a final endorsement by the Cabinet and Parliament ahead of three international donor conferences aimed at supporting Lebanon.The ministerial committee's meeting came amid strong opposition by some ministries, namely the Education and Social Affairs ministries, to proposed cuts in their budget.Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said afterward that the Education Ministry's budget had been addressed "in the same manner as that of other ministries," signaling that the ministry's budget would be slashed by 20 percent despite opposition by Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh.Before entering the committee's meeting, Hamadeh said that he would not accept a "single penny" being cut from his ministry's budget.Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi said he would push for his ministry's budget, which was $150 million last year, to at least be maintained at its current level, arguing that his ministry provided a vital lifeline to vulnerable communities across Lebanon.
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