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FILE PHOTO: Papua New Guinea's then Prime Minister Peter O'Neill makes an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia
FILE PHOTO: Papua New Guinea’s then Prime Minister Peter O’Neill makes an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/File Photo

May 27, 2019

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Political turmoil in Papua New Guinea threatened to delay a $13 billion plan to double the country’s gas exports, sending shares in one of the project’s partners, Oil Search Ltd, down nearly 4% on Monday.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said on Sunday he would resign after weeks of high-level defections from the ruling party. Sir Julius Chan, twice a former premier, would take over as the government’s leader, O’Neill said.

Political instability is not unusual in Papua New Guinea and has not held back mining and energy investments in the resource-rich country, however protests over benefits failing to reach rural areas have dogged the government and project owners.

It was not clear whether Chan could command a majority in parliament when it resumes on Tuesday.

“We will not choose him. It’s a really bad choice,” opposition lawmaker Allan Bird told Reuters in a text message.

“We want a complete break from O’Neill (and) Chan is just a proxy for O’Neill,” he said.

Chan said on Monday he had been approached by both the government and the opposition to take the role.

“This is not a position I am seeking,” he said in a statement. “However, I love Papua New Guinea, and there is a desperate need right now to unite the country … and to make the wealth of this country work to the benefit of the people of this country.”

O’Neill had resisted calls to resign for weeks but his opponents said on Friday they had rallied enough support in parliament to oust him over a range of grievances, including a gas deal agreed in April with France’s Total SA.

The deal with Total set the terms for developing the Elk and Antelope gas fields, which will feed two new liquefied natural gas (LNG) production units at the PNG LNG plant, run by ExxonMobil Corp.

At the same time, ExxonMobil and its partners are planning to build a third new unit at the PNG plant, to be partly fed by another new gas field, P’nyang.

Credit Suisse analyst Saul Kavonic said the political upheaval could put pressure on the government to negotiate tough terms for the P’nyang gas agreement, which is yet to be finalised, and affect talks on development costs.

“Both these factors heighten the risk of delay,” he said in a note to clients.

Any delays in the P’nyang agreement could hold up a final investment decision on the PNG LNG expansion, which is set to double the plant’s capacity to 16 million tonnes a year.

The uncertainty sent shares in Oil Search, a partner in PNG LNG and Papua LNG, down as much as 3.9% in early trading on Monday. Energy stocks rose 0.6%.

ExxonMobil and its partners had hoped to begin basic engineering planning for the expansion by mid-2019 and make a final investment decision in 2020.

They are racing against projects in Mozambique, Qatar, North America and Australia to produce LNG from the expansion by 2024 to fill an expected gap in the global LNG market. ExxonMobil and Total both have LNG projects elsewhere that could take priority if PNG politics delays them, Kavonic said.

RBC analyst Ben Wilson said he did not think a final investment decision in 2020 was at risk yet and played down the threat that the PNG opposition would seek to renegotiate the LNG agreement.

“Sanctity of contract is critical to ongoing investment in PNG and to the success of future potential sovereign bond issuances,” Wilson said.

Total and Oil Search representatives were not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Sonali Paul; Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Newcastle United v Leicester City
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Premier League – Newcastle United v Leicester City – St James’ Park, Newcastle, Britain – September 29, 2018 Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley REUTERS/Scott Heppell

May 27, 2019

(Reuters) – Mike Ashley has agreed to sell Newcastle United to Abu Dhabi’s billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan for 350 million pounds ($445.24 million), the Sun reported late on Sunday.

The contracts between Ashley and Sheikh Khaled have been signed and submitted to the Premier League, according to the report.

Ashley, who bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club in 2007, has in the past tried to sell the club.

Ashley, who owns British sportswear retailer Sports Direct International Plc said last October that he had not received any acceptable offers for Newcastle, a year after he officially put the club up for sale, but told Sky News in December that talks on a deal had made promising progress.

Any potential buyer of the club must be able to provide transfer funds, he had said at the time.

Sheikh Khaled, the cousin of Manchester City owner and Arab billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, previously failed in his bid to buy Liverpool Football Club for 2 billion pounds last year, the Daily Mail has previously reported.

Sheikh Khaled is also the founder of Bin Zayed Group, a leading conglomerate with diverse business interests in the local and international markets.

Newcastle United, the Premier League and the Bin Zayed Group did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comments.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump meets Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand at attention next to Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

May 27, 2019

By Jeff Mason

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump met new Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako on Monday in the ceremonial highlight of a state visit overshadowed by trade tensions between the two allies.

Trump, a fan of pomp and circumstance, was greeted by the new emperor and his Harvard-educated wife at the imperial palace in Tokyo as part of a formal welcoming ceremony broadcast live on national television.

He became the first foreign dignitary to be received by the monarch since he inherited the throne earlier this month after his father, Akihito, stepped down in the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in two centuries.

Trump has made clear he was pleased to have been given the honor of the first reception with the emperor, who is treating him and first lady Melania Trump to a lavish state dinner later on Monday.

“It’s over 200 years since something like this has happened. So it’s a great honor to be representing the United States,” Trump said at a dinner with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the leaders’ wives on Sunday.

In between visits with the monarch, Trump is slated to hold formal talks with Abe, with whom he played golf, attended a sumo tournament and dined on Sunday.

The two leaders put on a show of friendship meant to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance but have policy disagreements over trade and North Korea.

Trump has threatened to target Japanese automakers with high tariffs as part of an effort to reduce trade surpluses with other countries that he sees as a sign that the United States has been mistreated.

Tokyo and Washington are working on a bilateral trade agreement but Trump has said he does not expect major progress on it until July, when Abe’s ruling bloc faces an election for parliament’s upper house.

Trump has spearheaded an expensive trade dispute with China. That trade war between the world’s two largest economies has hurt markets worldwide and confounded U.S. allies, including Japan and the European Union.

Such allies share U.S. concerns about Chinese practices but object to Trump’s tactics of threatening tariffs on their products rather than seeking cooperation in standing up to Beijing.

In addition to trade, Abe and Trump are expected to discuss North Korea and Iran. Trump said on Sunday he was not worried about a recent missile launch by North Korea.

That put him at odds with his own national security adviser, John Bolton, who said on Saturday Pyongyang’s recent short-range missile tests violated United Nations Security Council resolutions. Japan shares Bolton’s view.

Also on Monday, Trump will meet families of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang decades ago to help train spies.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Jeff Mason and Linda Sieg; Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: OANN


On this Memorial Weekend, we remember the fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate price for America’s freedoms.

Why not do your part and spread the message of liberty to friends, family, or your neighbors?

We’re offering $5000 for the top effort to strategically place posters in a lawful, public commons area and film its placement.

Send a link to your video entry to [email protected] by Monday, June 10, at Midnight CDT.

Additionally, we’re offering $1000 for Second Place and $500 for Third Place:

First Place: $5000

Second Place: $1000

Third Place: $500

Here’s 3 example entries to get you started:

Rules:

Please remember to abide by all local ordinances and other relevant laws when displaying your posters. A good rule of thumb is to post them in entertainment, eatery and bar areas where other posters may be posted.

You can create your own poster or use ours (links to poster-sized images below). But if you use your own poster, remember to include the Infowars.com address.

Send a link to your video entry to [email protected] by Monday, June 10, at Midnight CDT. We will post entries to Infowars.com that put in good effort.

Honor the fallen. Fight for freedom.

Here’s poster designs you can print out and post in your area.

Click to enlarge for a printable version, and then right-click ‘Save Image As…’ to save it to your computer and print copies.










Source: InfoWars

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 26, 2019. Jim Hollander/Pool via REUTERS

May 26, 2019

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on Sunday on what he termed a “final effort” to break a deadlock on forming a governing coalition ahead of a Wednesday deadline for a deal.

In power for the past decade, Netanyahu has unexpectedly struggled to seal an agreement with a clutch of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that would align with his Likud party and ensure him a fifth term following Israel’s April 9 election.

Divisions between former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party and United Torah Judaism over a military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have plunged the coalition talks into stalemate.

Lieberman has long said ultra-Orthodox men must share other Israeli Jews’ burden of mandatory service. Ultra-Orthodox parties say seminary students should be largely exempt from conscription as they have been since Israel was founded in 1948.

A 42-day deadline mandated by law to announce a new government expires on Wednesday, and President Reuven Rivlin can then assign the task to another legislator after consultations with the leaders of political parties.

That could open the way for former military chief Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to try. But he would need the backing of some of Likud’s allies to persuade Rivlin he could put together a ruling majority in parliament.

Likud and Blue and White each won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats seats in the April ballot, but Netanyahu was seen as having clinched victory because of the right-wing majority that emerged.

In a video published on Twitter on Sunday, Netanyahu said he had invited all of his negotiating partners to meet him in “a final attempt to form a right-wing government” and avoid “an unnecessary election”.

A Likud source said the sessions would be held later in the day and on Monday.

Parallel to the negotiations, Likud announced preparations for a possible national ballot, with November already touted by political analysts as a likely date.

Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar released a draft of a dissolution bill that he said he was submitting to parliament, but no date for a vote in the legislature was announced. Likud said its secretariat would meet on Tuesday “to prepare for an election”.

Some political commentators saw those moves as an attempt to pressure Likud’s negotiating partners into a deal, given the possibility of a voter backlash against another national ballot so soon after the previous one and the uncertainty of the election’s outcome in a country riven by divisions.

The scheduling of an election – and Likud could face an uphill battle for the necessary 61 votes in parliament to pass a dissolution resolution – would pre-empt a coalition-building assignment from Rivlin and ensure Netanyahu remains as interim prime minister until a new government is formed.

Already locked in a legal battle over his potential indictment in three corruption cases, Netanyahu has vowed to remain in office even if he is charged. He denies any wrongdoing and is scheduled to argue against indictment at a pre-trial hearing in October.

(Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

ATP 1000 - Italian Open
Tennis – ATP 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 19, 2019 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates during the final against Spain’s Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Matteo Ciambelli

May 26, 2019

By Martyn Herman

(Reuters) – Novak Djokovic stands on the verge of holding all four Grand Slam titles for the second time in his career and should he do it by winning the French Open, it would surpass anything Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer have achieved, said Mats Wilander.

Three years ago Djokovic became the first man since Australian great Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slams simultaneously when he beat Andy Murray to win the French Open.

A career slump followed but the Serb rebounded last year to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and this year took his Grand Slam total to 15 after holding aloft the Australian Open trophy for a seventh time.

Now he has the chance to win four in a row again and seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander believes victory in Paris would pave the way to surpass both Federer (20) and Nadal (17) in Grand Slam titles.

“In the grand scheme of things Novak winning four in a row again, it would be the most impressive thing we have ever seen,” Eurosport analyst Wilander told Reuters in an interview.

The greatest of all time (GOAT) debate usually splits fans into the Federer and Nadal camps and Djokovic earns less adulation than those two.

“If Novak wins the French, suddenly then he has to be compared to the greatest players of all time,” Wilander said.

“He will have 16 (slams) if he wins the French. Okay Roger will still have 20 but it would be comparable because he would have won the Nole Slam twice, I mean that’s unbelievable.

“To me that’s incredible, Novak winning here is a bigger deal than Rafa winning 12 (French Opens). But then if Rafa wins, he’s on 18 majors so it’s getting crowded at the top.”

Wilander said the French Open was ‘monumental’ in terms of the longevity of Nadal’s career, saying a failure to retain his crown could have knock-on effects for the Spaniard.

“I think the bigger picture for me is more long term,” Wilander, part of Eurosport’s daily ‘Game Schett and Mats’ review of the action in Paris, said.

“If Rafa doesn’t win the French, I kind of see him having a hard time winning Wimbledon or the U.S. Open… then next year’s French Open comes into doubt.

“If Novak wins I mean the door will be wide open to reach 20 Grand Slams. Then if he equals Roger’s 20 he would be regarded as the greatest player of all time.”

That said, Wilander says this year’s men’s tournament is more open than usual with a host of young players such as Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, Austrian Dominic Thiem, Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev and Chilean Cristian Garin equipped to cause trouble.

“So many guys hit the ball so hard today,” Wilander said. I’m not saying they will necessarily beat them but the worry for Novak or Rafa is how many matches will they be pushed to over the four hour mark in the first four rounds?

“Rafa, Roger or Novak against (Grigor) Dimitrov or (Kei) Nishikori, they have great records against them, but if Rafa played Tsitsipas he would be nervous from the first point.

“The young guys have less respect for reputations.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

ATP 1000 - Italian Open
Tennis – ATP 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 19, 2019 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates during the final against Spain’s Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Matteo Ciambelli

May 26, 2019

By Martyn Herman

(Reuters) – Novak Djokovic stands on the verge of holding all four Grand Slam titles for the second time in his career and should he do it by winning the French Open, it would surpass anything Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer have achieved, said Mats Wilander.

Three years ago Djokovic became the first man since Australian great Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slams simultaneously when he beat Andy Murray to win the French Open.

A career slump followed but the Serb rebounded last year to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and this year took his Grand Slam total to 15 after holding aloft the Australian Open trophy for a seventh time.

Now he has the chance to win four in a row again and seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander believes victory in Paris would pave the way to surpass both Federer (20) and Nadal (17) in Grand Slam titles.

“In the grand scheme of things Novak winning four in a row again, it would be the most impressive thing we have ever seen,” Eurosport analyst Wilander told Reuters in an interview.

The greatest of all time (GOAT) debate usually splits fans into the Federer and Nadal camps and Djokovic earns less adulation than those two.

“If Novak wins the French, suddenly then he has to be compared to the greatest players of all time,” Wilander said.

“He will have 16 (slams) if he wins the French. Okay Roger will still have 20 but it would be comparable because he would have won the Nole Slam twice, I mean that’s unbelievable.

“To me that’s incredible, Novak winning here is a bigger deal than Rafa winning 12 (French Opens). But then if Rafa wins, he’s on 18 majors so it’s getting crowded at the top.”

Wilander said the French Open was ‘monumental’ in terms of the longevity of Nadal’s career, saying a failure to retain his crown could have knock-on effects for the Spaniard.

“I think the bigger picture for me is more long term,” Wilander, part of Eurosport’s daily ‘Game Schett and Mats’ review of the action in Paris, said.

“If Rafa doesn’t win the French, I kind of see him having a hard time winning Wimbledon or the U.S. Open… then next year’s French Open comes into doubt.

“If Novak wins I mean the door will be wide open to reach 20 Grand Slams. Then if he equals Roger’s 20 he would be regarded as the greatest player of all time.”

That said, Wilander says this year’s men’s tournament is more open than usual with a host of young players such as Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, Austrian Dominic Thiem, Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev and Chilean Cristian Garin equipped to cause trouble.

“So many guys hit the ball so hard today,” Wilander said. I’m not saying they will necessarily beat them but the worry for Novak or Rafa is how many matches will they be pushed to over the four hour mark in the first four rounds?

“Rafa, Roger or Novak against (Grigor) Dimitrov or (Kei) Nishikori, they have great records against them, but if Rafa played Tsitsipas he would be nervous from the first point.

“The young guys have less respect for reputations.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

EPP final campaign event ahead of the EU election, in Munich
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during Manfred Weber’s, candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) for the next European Commission President, final campaign event ahead of the EU election in Munich, Germany, May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

May 26, 2019

By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) – Voters in the northern state of Bremen look set to inflict a humiliating blow on Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) in an election on Sunday that could hasten the end of their loveless federal coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

Polls in Germany’s smallest state, focused on the port city of the same name, are tight but indicate the SPD risks losing a stronghold it has ruled for 73 years. No other German state has been ruled by the same party for so long.

Elections to the European Parliament on the same day as Bremen’s parliamentary vote could pile further pressure on Merkel’s “grand coalition”, with both conservatives and SPD likely to suffer heavy losses.

First projections for both are due at 1800 CET (1600 GMT).

If the SPD loses Bremen to the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), pressure will mount on party leader Andrea Nahles to stand down or break with the federal coalition.

In a sign of growing unrest inside the SPD, German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported that former party leader Martin Schulz wants to replace Nahles as chief.

An SPD spokeswoman said that Nahles and Schulz were in regular discussions, declining to comment on the content of confidential talks.

Bremen has the highest jobless level of any German state. Most recent polls suggest there is scope for three outcomes in Bremen: a grand coalition of the SPD and CDU; a coalition of the CDU, Greens and the business-friendly FDP; or a coalition of SPD with the far-left Die Linke party and the Greens.

REVIEWING COALITION

Many among the SPD’s rank and file are fed up with serving as Merkel’s allies, a thankless role the party has fulfilled in 10 of the last 14 years and which has left the chancellor to steal the limelight, especially on the international stage.

The party reluctantly re-entered a Merkel-led coalition last year after slumping to its weakest level since 1933 in the 2017 federal election. It has since sunk even lower, polling at about 17 percent, more than 10 points behind the conservatives.

The party is due to review the coalition by the end of the year and pressure from members could grow to ditch it and instead reinvigorate its leftist roots in opposition.

Such a move could force a snap federal election, an unappealing option for both the SPD and conservative bloc, or possibly the formation of a different coalition which would be a tricky task.

Either of those scenarios could hasten Merkel’s exit, a subject of increasing speculation since she handed the CDU leadership to her protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer last year.

In Bremen, a new face for the CDU, IT businessman Carsten Meyer-Heder, senses a “mood for change”. Polls put him one point ahead of experienced SPD mayor Carsten Sieling, who is hoping voters will opt for a “safe pair of hands”.

(Additional reporting by Markus Wacket, Andreas Rinke and Christoph Steitz; Editing by David Holmes/Keith Weir)

Source: OANN

EPP final campaign event ahead of the EU election, in Munich
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during Manfred Weber’s, candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) for the next European Commission President, final campaign event ahead of the EU election in Munich, Germany, May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

May 26, 2019

By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) – Voters in the northern state of Bremen look set to inflict a humiliating blow on Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) in an election on Sunday that could hasten the end of their loveless federal coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

Polls in Germany’s smallest state, focused on the port city of the same name, are tight but indicate the SPD risks losing a stronghold it has ruled for 73 years. No other German state has been ruled by the same party for so long.

Elections to the European Parliament on the same day as Bremen’s parliamentary vote could pile further pressure on Merkel’s “grand coalition”, with both conservatives and SPD likely to suffer heavy losses.

First projections for both are due at 1800 CET (1600 GMT).

If the SPD loses Bremen to the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), pressure will mount on party leader Andrea Nahles to stand down or break with the federal coalition.

In a sign of growing unrest inside the SPD, German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported that former party leader Martin Schulz wants to replace Nahles as chief.

An SPD spokeswoman said that Nahles and Schulz were in regular discussions, declining to comment on the content of confidential talks.

Bremen has the highest jobless level of any German state. Most recent polls suggest there is scope for three outcomes in Bremen: a grand coalition of the SPD and CDU; a coalition of the CDU, Greens and the business-friendly FDP; or a coalition of SPD with the far-left Die Linke party and the Greens.

REVIEWING COALITION

Many among the SPD’s rank and file are fed up with serving as Merkel’s allies, a thankless role the party has fulfilled in 10 of the last 14 years and which has left the chancellor to steal the limelight, especially on the international stage.

The party reluctantly re-entered a Merkel-led coalition last year after slumping to its weakest level since 1933 in the 2017 federal election. It has since sunk even lower, polling at about 17 percent, more than 10 points behind the conservatives.

The party is due to review the coalition by the end of the year and pressure from members could grow to ditch it and instead reinvigorate its leftist roots in opposition.

Such a move could force a snap federal election, an unappealing option for both the SPD and conservative bloc, or possibly the formation of a different coalition which would be a tricky task.

Either of those scenarios could hasten Merkel’s exit, a subject of increasing speculation since she handed the CDU leadership to her protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer last year.

In Bremen, a new face for the CDU, IT businessman Carsten Meyer-Heder, senses a “mood for change”. Polls put him one point ahead of experienced SPD mayor Carsten Sieling, who is hoping voters will opt for a “safe pair of hands”.

(Additional reporting by Markus Wacket, Andreas Rinke and Christoph Steitz; Editing by David Holmes/Keith Weir)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri reacts after the announcement of the new government at the presidential palace in Baabda
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri reacts, after the announcement of the new government at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

May 26, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Lebanese draft state budget for 2019 is the start of a “long road” and shows Lebanon is determined to tackle public sector waste, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said, after his unity cabinet wrapped up marathon talks on the plan.

The budget finalised by the government on Friday cuts the deficit to 7.5% of GDP from 11.5% in 2018. It is seen as a critical test of Lebanon’s will to launch reforms that have been put off for years by a state riddled with corruption and waste.

“The 2019 budget is not the end. This budget is the beginning of a long road that we decided to take in order to lead the Lebanese economy to safety,” Hariri said in a speech at a Ramadan iftar meal on Saturday.

Lebanon’s bloated public sector is its biggest expense, followed by the cost of servicing a public debt equal to some 150% of GDP, one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens.

The government, which groups nearly all of Lebanon’s main political parties, met 19 times to agree on the budget. Hariri said the budget for 2020 would not take that much time “because now we know what we want to do”.

“The 2019 budget is the beginning of the process of what we want to do in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks sent by his office. 

The cabinet is due to meet on Monday at the presidential palace to formally seal the process before the budget is referred to parliament.

The budget could help unlock some $11 billion in financing pledged at a Paris donors’ conference last year for infrastructure investment, if it wins the approval of donor countries and institutions.

Hariri said the budget was a message to the Lebanese, financial markets and friendly foreign states that Lebanon was determined to “address the weakness, imbalance and squander in the public sector”.

Measures to rein in the public sector wage bill include a three-year freeze in all types of state hiring and a cap on extra-salary bonuses. State pensions will also be taxed.

A big chunk of the deficit cut stems from tax increases including a 2% import tax and a hike in tax on interest payments.

The government also plans to cut some $660 million from the debt servicing bill by issuing treasury bonds at a 1% interest rate to the Lebanese banking sector.

Fears the budget would lead to cuts to state salaries, pensions or benefits triggered weeks of strikes and protests by public sector workers and military veterans.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN


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