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Lebanon approves budget for 2020, economic reforms amid protests

Lebanon's government on Oct. 21 approved a budget for 2020 and a raft of emergency reforms meant to appease protesters across the country who have accused political leaders of mismanaging the economy, Reuters reported.

The reform package included a 50% cut in the salaries of government ministers and lawmakers and the abolition of state bodies, according to the report. The government budget for next year also targeted a deficit of around 0.6% of GDP, down from an estimated shortfall of 7% in 2019, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said.

A deficit reduction of 5.1 trillion Lebanese pounds would be contributed by Lebanon's central bank and commercial banks, partly through a tax hike on their profits.

The government also plans to speed up the reform of the state-run power sector, which Hariri said costs the Treasury about $2 billion each year despite its failure to meet Lebanon's power needs.

Lebanon declared an "economic state of emergency" in September as the country continued to grapple with elevated levels of public debt and budget deficit.

As of Oct. 18, US$1 was equivalent to 1,512.50 Lebanese pounds.