Minister Ali Hasan Khalil speaks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a Cabinet session in Beirut, Monday, March 12, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The Cabinet Monday endorsed the 2018 draft state budget containing a set of reforms and incentives for all sectors and sent it to Parliament for final ratification, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said, in a move designed to slash the crippling deficit and control government spending ahead of international donor conferences in support of Lebanon.Shortly after the Cabinet approved the budget, President Michel Aoun signed the decree that was also inked by both Hariri and Khalil and sent it to Parliament.Hariri emphasized that consensus among political leaders was essential to get things moving in the country, including the passing of the budget.Speaking at the news conference with Hariri, Khalil said the 2018 budget would not include any new taxes, in sharp contrast with the 2017 budget – the first to be passed since 2005 – that contained more than 20 tax measures to fund salary increases for the public sectors employees and schoolteachers.Khalil said the total budget amounted to LL23.8 trillion, in addition to a LL2,100 billion loan to cover the EDL deficit.
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