Syria & Lebanon

Lebanese Cabinet adopts new policy statement

Lebanon’s cabinet unanimously approved on Thursday a government policy statement that includes a financial rescue plan with minor amendments, ministerial sources and local media said after the meeting.

“The ministerial statement is the product of facts and studies, and does not carry any personal approaches or individual calculations. Our ambition is much greater, but pragmatism put us in front of facts that cannot be ignored,” said Prime Hassan Diab via the Lebanese Presidency Twitter account.

It was not immediately clear what amendments were made to the plan, which will be presented to parliament for a vote of confidence in the new government formed last month by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group and its political allies.

The draft plan, which was obtained by Al Arabiya English ahead of the vote, says “the steps and treatment tools that we will propose will be painful,” but adds that “people will know or may one day recall that it was necessary.”

The plan does not specify what the “painful steps” would entail, but called for reducing interest rates on loan and deposits, recapitalizing banks, and reducing the cost of debt as part of any economic bailout plan.

Experts have criticized the draft plan, as it is vague and has few concrete suggestions to pull the country out of its current downward economic spiral. It is set to be passed by the new government led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab and follows shortly after the new government adopted the unpopular 2020 state budget.

Anti-government protests have been ongoing since mid-October in Lebanon. Demonstrators have demanded better accountability and more transparency from the traditional ruling class.

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