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Lebanon Mulls Ways to Reduce Budget Deficit

Lebanon Mulls Ways to Reduce Budget Deficit

Tuesday, 16 April, 2019 - 07:15
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a street hosting banks and financial institutions, known as Banks Street, in Beirut Central District, Lebanon September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/File Photo
Beirut - Mohamed Choucair
The Lebanese government is set to agree on a series of measures starting this week to reduce the country’s budget deficit, a move that would likely shrink the growing debt.

“The country is on the edge of an abyss. It is no longer acceptable to turn a blind eye to all the warnings made by the economic committees, international institutions and countries supporting Lebanon,” several cabinet ministers told Asharq al-Awsat on Monday.

The government should commit to its pledges to reduce the budget deficit, fight corruption and waste of public funds, and launch administrative and financial reforms, they said.

The ministers uncovered that the state treasury is reeling under the scourge of monetary burdens, caused by the increase in the number of public servants.

“The government pays more than $5.5 billion to around 150,000 employees and more than 100,000 retired military personnel and civil servants,” they said.

Among the measures that the government is mulling to take are reviewing the salaries of some director generals, closing some Lebanese embassies abroad, and limiting the trips of official delegations abroad to attend conferences, by tasking ambassadors to represent Lebanon in such events, the ministers told the newspaper.

They also said that measures will include putting a freeze on the employment of new civil servants.

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