Diab Says Govt. to Slash Subsidies, Citizens ‘Won’t Pay the Price’

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Newly-assigned Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. Aoun named Diab as prime minister after a day of consultations with lawmakers in which he gained a simple majority of the 128-member parliament. Sixty-nine lawmakers, including the parliamentary bloc of the Shiite Hezbollah and Amal movements as well as lawmakers affiliated with President Michel Aoun gave him their votes. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced Tuesday that his government intends to end the subsidization of some goods without burdening citizens with additional financial and economic woes.

“The goal behind rationalizing subsidization is to use the available funds for a longer period without making citizens pay the price,” Diab said at a financial ministerial meeting.

“We are seeking a vision for resolving the subsidization crisis in cooperation with the central bank and the parliamentary committees, in order to pass the coming period pending the formation of the new government,” he added.

He noted that some foodstuffs will be dropped from the list of subsidized goods in order to support “only the goods and material that represent an essential priority for citizens.”

Acknowledging that subsidization has been “misused,” Diab noted that there is a proposal to introduce ration cards so that subsidization benefits only those who need it.

“We cannot take any decision at the level of cabinet, because the constitution does not allow the cabinet to convene, but we have activated the action of ministries to confront challenges, junctures and the growing crises, especially the issue of subsidization,” the caretaker PM added.

Moreover, Diab called for approving a capital control law to “regulate the movement of transfers to abroad to preserve our financial and economic future.”

Grand Serail sources meanwhile told al-Jadeed TV that the caretaker government will not end the subsidization of “flour, medicine and essential goods” while noting that “as for fuel, there is another formula that is being worked on with the State of Iraq and will be soon finalized.”

Later in the day, the conferees issued an official statement in which they agreed that the price of bread will not be hiked and that the subsidization of essential medicines and foodstuffs will continue.

They also agreed to secure the necessary requirements for the rise of the agricultural and industrial sectors, to study a mechanism for cutting oil imports’ cost and to speed up discussions on the issue of ration cards.

“A complete and detailed format for this vision will be devised within a week,” the statement added.

SourceNaharnet

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