President Michel Aoun (R) and Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) during a Cabinet session at the Baabda Palace, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. (The Daily Star/Dalati&Nohra, HO)
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Lebanon's Cabinet convened Wednesday with the 2017 draft budget the main focus on its agenda.Among the proposals are increases to the value added tax from the current 10 to 11 percent, increasing taxes on interest rates on customer deposits from 5 to 7 percent, increasing taxes on corporate profits from 15 to 17 percent, and slapping a 15 percent tax on real estate transactions.However, differences within the Cabinet and in Parliament over the wage hike bill for civil servants and demands by key blocs, mainly Aoun's parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, for the auditing of $11 billion in extra-budgetary spending by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government between 2005 and 2009, might hinder the ratification of the draft state in Parliament.
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