BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Protests across Lebanon continues against government's policies despite the reform measures announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Al Jadeed local TV channel reported.
Protesters took to streets for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, and blocked the streets leading to the central bank in Beirut's Hamra in addition to streets in different areas of the country.
The Lebanese army was deployed all over Lebanon in an attempt to clear roads of barriers set by protesters and facilitate the transportation for regular movement of citizens across the country.
Banks remained closed on Tuesday while banking sources told Asharq Al Awsat local newspaper that banks may probably keep their doors shut until next Monday for security reasons and to avoid a high demand by people for their deposits.
However, the central bank has supplied commercial banks with liquidity in case people are willing to draw money from ATM machines.
Moreover, military veterans joined the protests while announcing that they will not leave the streets until the government meets all their demands.
Some of the people voiced their concern about government's capacity to implement the reforms included in the new economic plan.
A top government adviser says, Lebanon expects foreign donors to react positively to reforms it has agreed, and wants to show it is serious about cutting the budget deficit,.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and top officials drew up the list of steps at the weekend amid protests sweeping the country and rising calls for the government to resign.
"We believe the decisions will get very positive reactions,” he said. "It is hoped that...Lebanon, in a very short period of time, will be able to restore the capacity to fund debt requirements,” Nadim Munla, Hariri’s senior adviser, said in a briefing to journalists.
He said bond holders would not be affected by the reform package, which includes cutting debt servicing costs.
The plans include halving salaries of ministers and overhauling Lebanon’s wasteful power sector. The cabinet also approved on Monday a 2020 state budget that does not impose new taxes on people and aims for a deficit of 0.6% of GDP, down from a previous target of around 7%.
"We wanted to send a very clear message that Lebanon is serious about handling its budget deficit,” Munla said. He said this would hopefully lead to "a very positive development in the markets” and an increase in foreign direct investment.
He said the forecast deficit cut would come from reducing spending, including power subsidies, debt servicing costs and capital expenditures. Munla added that 0% economic growth was expected in 2020.
Protests across Lebanon continues against government's policies despite the reform measures announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.