Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Saad Al-Hariri said the cabinet held 19 sessions to conduct discussions on the budget. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019

Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP

BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)


Mubadala has invested $100bn in US, eyes China

Updated 6 min 28 sec ago

Mubadala has invested $100bn in US, eyes China

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala Investment Co. has invested $100 billion in the US, more than 40 percent of its roughly $240 billion portfolio, Deputy CEO Waleed Al-Muhairi said on Tuesday.

“What that tells you is that from our perspective the risk reward equation works in the US,” he said at the SALT conference in Abu Dhabi, adding that most of the investments are direct, with a small portion indirectly invested through funds.
He said the remaining part of the portfolio is almost equally split between three regions — the UAE, Europe and Asia.
Muhairi said Mubadala has invested $2 billion in China in 15-16 sectors from its $10 billion UAE China fund and could step up investments in the mainland.
“China is the UAE’s largest trading partner, it is an important economic relationship for us,” he said.
Mubadala would want to participate in some “shape, way or form” in the growth of China, which could become the largest economy in the world, Muhairi said.
Technology is a focus for Mubadala, he added.
Mubadala has invested $15 billion in Softbank’s Vision Fund I and recently announced plans to invest $250 million through two funds in technology firms in the Middle East and North Africa.