Hariri after meeting Al-Rabia'ah: Reform and austerity measures require consensus
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Prime Minister Saad Hariri received Monday afternoon at the Center House the Advisor to the Saudi Royal Court and General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Rabia'ah, accompanied by the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari and the accompanying delegation, in the presence of the Secretary General of the Higher Relief Committee Mj. Gen. Mohamed Kheir.
They discussed Al-Rabia'ah’s mission in Lebanon and the bilateral relations between the two countries.
During the meeting, Al- Rabia'ah presented to Prime Minister Hariri a shield as a token of appreciation.
After the meeting, Al-Rabia'ah said: “I am very happy to meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. I conveyed to him the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz and of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz. The visit comes in implementation of these directives and to underline the strong relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Through this visit and in application of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, many programs will be implemented and agreements signed to support humanitarian aid in several areas, to Syrian refugees and the brotherly Lebanese people. This work is the beginning of multiple programs and of the continuation of this strong relationship not only in the humanitarian field, but in all areas.”
In a chat with reporters after the meeting, Hariri said that the main reason delaying the completion of the budget is “to ensure that we can all agree on all the numbers and reductions that we want to implement because economy, growth and reform are not the responsibility of one party, but of all parties, and they are partners in this reform. Saad Hariri cannot carry out reform alone, nor can the President of the Republic or Speaker Nabih Berri. Any of the political parties in the Council of Ministers cannot carry out reform alone, because it is done through consensus between us all. The same goes for the austerity measures we want to take. Because we are keen on the Lebanese citizen, state and all employees in the Lebanese administration and on preserving their benefits. No one in politics has a hobby of taking anything away from anyone. What is important is that we can implement all CEDRE projects that contribute to the growth of the economy.”
He added: “It is true that there is austerity, but it is not true that there will be no money in the country. This austerity will bring all CEDRE projects to the Council of Ministers, and then we start to implement one project after the other and this is the basis, to have growth with austerity.
This way we will reach the figures that we are seeking to reach. Next year, there will certainly not be austerity because we would have secured electricity 24 hours per day with an increase in tariffs and even if this increase takes place, it will save the Lebanese citizen between 20 and 25 percent. This will help us reach the figures we want to reach in the years 2020 and 2021.”
Asked about what President Michel Aoun said on Sunday, and whether he meant Prime Minister Hariri, he said: “I do not want to respond. I understand that all political parties want to increase their gains, but for me, it is the result that counts, and that the Council of Ministers approves a budget with a very large reform, for the future of our children, and what is important to us is that we all participate in this.”