BEIRUT: Almost two months after it was first endorsed by the Cabinet, Lebanese lawmakers passed Friday evening the hotly contested 2019 state budget, with 83 MPs voting in favor, 18 against and 1 abstaining.
Throughout the day, protesters, mostly army veterans, expressed their discontent over a budget that seeks to cut their end of services indemnities.
The protesters pushed past barricades, walking over them and voicing their concerns as lawmakers discussed the recent measures.
“We are trying to accomplish the impossible under severe circumstances,” Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in regards to the budget which he once described as the most austere in Lebanon's history.
Despite six months left till the end of the year 2019, Hariri expressed hope in the completion of the 2020 budget "as soon as possible."
The budget is aimed at averting a financial crisis in heavily indebted Lebanon. But it was met with criticism for failing to address structural problems. Instead, the budget mostly cuts public spending and raises taxes.
Despite the criticism, lawmakers began voting on each article of the bill in a closed session. Scuffles broke out before amid tight security.
-- With AP
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