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Kouyoumjian calls for accelerating adoption of austerity budget

Minister of Social Affairs, Richard Kouyoumjian, warned Saturday that the country has entered a critical financial and economic phase, saying, "We have to redress the matter and take the appropriate measures," calling for "adopting an austerity budget."

"The Lebanese Forces Party is pressing for the adoption of the budget as soon as possible, coupled with the necessary reforms, and stopping waste expenditure," he said in an interview with "Radio Free Lebanon" this morning.

"The World Bank's observations are not limited to electricity, although it has incurred additional burdens on the state, but it calls for implementing reforms and adopting an austerity budget," Kouyoumjian added.

He explained that the electricity dossier requires addressing three main areas: stopping waste expenses, adopting a permanent solution and returning to the administration of tenders.

Over the issue of displaced Syrians, the Minister considered that more than economic factors, psychological and security conditions are playing a role in preventing the return of the displaced.

Kouyoumjian noted that "more was expected from the Lebanese - Russian meeting, especially in the final statement following the presidential visit." He added that the Russian position has reversed, saying, "the Russian initiative is summarized by exerting pressure on the Assad regime."

Kouyoumjian pointed to "an international desire for the return of the displaced to Syria and not to settle them in Lebanon," disclosing that this is what he heard in Brussels. He added that PM Saad Hariri has repeatedly reiterated the demand for their return during his meetings.

The Social Affairs Minister also referred to the Lebanese Forces' initiative for the return of the displaced, saying, "It stipulates that the regime should take some measures to facilitate the return, including technical measures, but the main part was Russia's pressure on the regime to ensure said return."

"The surprise was in the retracting Russian position," he added.

"We welcome any Russian-American convergence to return the displaced, but this is not in our hands," Kouyoumjian corroborated.

Source: National News Agency