BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has announced his long-awaited economic plan following five days of nationwide demonstrations against the government's policies, Al Manar local TV Channel has reported.
Among the most important reforms announced by Hariri is the 2020 state budget with 0.6 percent deficit, a reduction in the salaries of ministers and parliament members by 50 percent, a reduction in the budgets of the Council for Development and Reconstruction and other public institutions.
Also, Hariri said that the government will provide healthcare for the elderly, and inject an additional 20 billion Lebanese pounds (13.2 million U.S. dollars) for the support of the most vulnerable people, in addition to constructing power stations and reducing 50 percent of the electricity's deficit in 2020 while allocating 165 million dollars for housing loans.
Hariri emphasized the need to implement CEDRE which unlock 11 billion dollars in loans and donations for Lebanon.
The prime minister also assured that ministries won't do any investments and the government will rely on foreign investments in a bid to stop money squandering in the year 2020.
The government has also agreed not to impose new taxes on citizens with the central bank and commercial banks contributing to a great extend in reducing the state's budget deficit.
Hariri addressed people protesting in the streets that he is keen on protecting their dignity by providing basic services, such as proper healthcare, education and social security.
Hariri also said that he is ready to go for early parliamentary elections if this is what people in the streets are looking for.
The protesters' reaction towards Hariri's announcements is still unclear, according to Al Manar.
It said that some people are willing to give the government some time to implement the new measures, while others said they prefer to stay in the streets until they see concrete results.
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun has expressed solidarity with the protesters who have flooded the streets of the country in recent days, saying their agitation shows "people's pain."
"What is happening in the streets expresses people's pain, but generalizing corruption (charges) against everyone carries big injustice," Aoun's office quoted him as saying during a cabinet session on Monday.
Aoun also said the government must at least begin by lifting banking secrecy from current and future ministers, the office of the Lebanese president added in a tweet.