The Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil stressed that the 2020 draft budget law doesn’t include any new taxes. All the rumors we are hearing about the +5000LL tax on gasoline, raising the value-added tax from 11 to 15 percent on certain products, and increasing the tax on bank deposit interest from 10 to 11 percent, are not true, according to Minister Khalil.
Speaker Nabih Berri stressed also that there are no new taxes on fuels or on the low-income classes. He also declared that he has made five proposals on the economic dialogue table, including activation of law on public-private partnerships so that the state does not continue to borrow from abroad.
Lebanon’s political leaders met on Monday with the aim of finding a solution to the country’s economic crisis, and “Lebanon is in state of economic emergency,” the officials declared.
Before 2017, Lebanon had been without a budget for 12 years. Cabinet studied 2019’s budget in April 2019, which was then approved in May and ratified by Parliament in July. 2018’s budget was ratified in March of 2018, while the 2017’s one was ratified in October 2017.
However, on the 2020 draft budget, Cabinet will begin studying it next week in an effort to have it ratified by the Parliament at the end of 2019, for the first time in over a decade. Information Minister Jamal Jarrah said that the Cabinet could hold two sessions next week to begin “preliminary readings” of the 2020 budget.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in an interview with CNBC that the Lebanese government would aim to bring down the budget deficit to 7 percent of GDP in 2020. The budget deficit reached 11.1 percent of GDP in 2018, and if adhered to, the 2019 budget will reduce Lebanon’s deficit to around 7.8 percent of GDP.
“In the upcoming days, we will witness great efforts and major actions by the government to protect Lebanon from the storm it is going through,” Hariri vowed on Thursday night during a ceremony honoring pilgrims who had returned from Mecca. “We should all work together for Lebanon and put every effort to get the country out of this crisis,” he added.
With several measures taken and various promises given, we just have to wait and hope for the best.