Lebanese government departments must cut 2018 budgets by 20%, PM Hariri says

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the second “Kuwait Financial Forum” in Kuwait City on October 31,2010. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 24 January 2018

Lebanese government departments must cut 2018 budgets by 20%, PM Hariri says

BEIRUT: All Lebanese government institutions must cut their 2018 budgets by 20 percent as part of the country’s efforts to revamp its struggling economy, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said on Tuesday.
Costs must be reduced “in accordance with the policy of spending rationalization and controlling public finances,” a statement from Hariri’s office said.
Lebanon’s economy has been battered by six years of war in neighboring Syria and by simmering political divisions.
After years of paralysis in government decision-making, Lebanon last year passed its first government budget since 2005.
The government is now trying to finalize the 2018 budget, in which analysts and politicians have said they hope to see serious efforts made to get the state’s finances in order.
Growth slowed from an average of eight percent before the Syrian conflict began in 2011 and the country has one of the world’s highest ratios of debt to gross domestic product, around 140 percent. 2017 growth is estimated to be about 2.5 percent.
The order to slash budgets comes ahead of a major donor conference to be held in Paris in March, at which Lebanon is expected to seek support for its economy and army and to help it deal with the approximately one million Syrian refugees the country is hosting.
The country’s crumbling infrastructure has not been overhauled since the end of a 15-year civil war in 1990 and Lebanon has plans for a 10-year $16 billion capital investment program.
Lebanon recently engaged management consultant company McKinsey to help transform the stagnating economy.
Ministries must present the amended budgets to the finance ministry within two weeks from the decree’s publication.
Hariri is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week.

Qatari royal takes to Twitter to condemn 'unbearable' conditions under Sheikh Tamim

Updated 56 min 56 sec ago

Qatari royal takes to Twitter to condemn 'unbearable' conditions under Sheikh Tamim

JEDDAH: A member of the Qatari royal family has taken to Twitter to attack the government of Emir Sheikh Tamim, accusing Doha of foreign and domestic mismanagement and the harassment of other royal family members. 

Sheikh Fahad bin Abdullah Al-Thani claimed the domestic situation in Qatar has become unbearable, according to a translation by Al Arabiya of some of the points made in a Twitter question and answer session on the account carrying his name.

He said the boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries over Doha’s links to extremist groups meant that the internal problems were not just the rising prices but also “the complete isolation the regime has imposed on its people.”

He said large numbers of the royal family had been banned from travelling.

“The Al-Thani family cannot travel without prior permission. Anyone who did get approval from the regime was not allowed to travel especially after opposition within the family increased as they tried to save their country from this dark crisis.”

Sheikh Fahad said the “tragedies” that had befallen his country 

were down to the former Emir’s reliance on the radical cleric Youssef Al-Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Although the people of Qatar have no links with this terrorist group,” he said.