Lebanon’s PM vows push to finish 2018 budget

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said: ‘The country needs reforms, the budgets of ministries should be reduced and we have to send real positive signs to the states participating in the forthcoming international conferences.’ (AP Photo)
Updated 26 February 2018
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Lebanon’s PM vows push to finish 2018 budget

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri vowed on Monday to hold intensive meetings to complete the 2018 budget in line with a March 5 deadline set by the parliament speaker.
The finance minister has said Lebanon will not be able to ask international donors for support at forthcoming conferences unless it first passes the 2018 budget to show backers that Beirut is serious about reforming the heavily indebted state.
“The country needs reforms, the budgets of ministries should be reduced and we have to send real positive signs to the states participating in the forthcoming international conferences,” Hariri said in a statement from his press office on Monday.
Lebanon hopes to win billions of dollars of international investment at a Paris conference due to take place on April 6. It is seeking funding for a 10-year $16 billion capital investment program aimed at lifting economic growth.
Lebanon’s public debt was estimated above 150 percent of GDP at the end of 2017, and is expected to rise rapidly with a budget deficit above 10 percent over the forecast horizon, the International Monetary Fund said this month.
The country has one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and its economic growth is very weak, battered by domestic tensions and conflict in neighboring Syria. Political deadlock had left it without a government budget from 2005 until it agreed one last year.
The IMF report said passing the 2018 budget and preparing for the Paris conference could provide opportunities to launch much-needed reforms.
Hariri said: “We will hold consecutive sessions to finish it before the date set by Speaker Nabih Berri on March 5, because everyone will be busy afterwards to prepare for the parliamentary elections.”
Parliamentary elections are due to take place on May 6.


Gazan dies of wounds from Israel border clash: ministry

Updated 24 June 2018
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Gazan dies of wounds from Israel border clash: ministry

  • A Palestinian man shot by Israeli forces two days ago during clashes on the Gaza border died of his wounds early Sunday
  • At least 134 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since mass protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian man shot by Israeli forces two days ago during clashes on the Gaza border died of his wounds early Sunday, the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory said.
“Osama Khalil Abu Khater, 29-years-old, died of wounds to his stomach after being shot by the Israeli enemy east of Khan Yunis the day before yesterday,” ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said.
Palestinian sources said he was shot during a border clash.
At least 134 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since mass protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30.
No Israelis have been killed.
The protests peaked on May 14 when at least 62 Palestinians were killed as thousands approached the heavily guarded border fence on the same day the United States moved its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel says its use of live fire is necessary to defend its borders and stop infiltrations. It accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover for attacks.