HARIRI Says Laying Foundation for Serious Financial Reform, Hopes Budget Will be Sent Next Week to Parliament
20 May 2019
Lebanon - This is the speech delivered yesterday evening by the president of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri during the iftar held by the Future movement at the Seaside Arena:
Ramadan Kareem, from our beloved Beirut to our people in Akkar, Meniye, Denniye, Kalamun, Zgharta, Koura and Batroun.
Ramadan Kareem to our beloved ones in Iqlim, Sidon, the whole Mountain and the South.
Ramadan Kareem to our beloved in West, East and Central Bekaa.
This year I was planning to spend Ramadan in the areas, but the pressure of work prevented me from doing so. In fact, the aim of work is to launch the development and investment programs, and develop services all over Lebanon.
The Future movement represents the cornerstone of these programs, because if we talk about the ministerial statement, the development and reform programs and spending control, you can say that this is the program of the Future movement.
If you talk about the CEDRE Conference, and the planned support for the investment programs in the country, you can proudly say: This is the work of the Future movement.
You are at the heart of the economic advancement program and you are at the frontline to achieve the reforms and ease the socio-economic burdens of the citizens. Ninety percent of the Future movement supporters are from the poor, those with limited income and the middle class.
The movement is primarily concerned with protecting their rights whether they are public or private sector employees. And in order to protect their rights we cannot continue living in a state where everyone does what he wants.
The state is not a milky cow, just as late President Hraoui used to say. There is a problem in the public sector and the rest of the Lebanese are paying its price.
Yes there is a problem in the public sector and we cannot ignore it any more. Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri talked about it in detail in the year 1999.
To those who would like to remember and to know, and those who are talking today about the economic and financial problems, squander, corruption, and the necessary administrative reform, we tell to refer to the facts and figures presented by Premier Rafic Hariri.
He published a handbook entitled “Governance and Responsibility”. I asked for it to be reprinted because what is being said today in Cabinet and Parliament was said by Rafic Hariri twenty years ago. At the time, nobody wanted to listen and many were busy putting obstacles in front of Rafic Hariri.
But today everybody should listen, see and participate in the decision.
We are not trying to have an advantage in talking about a solution for the problems. Our opinion is known and written, and our suggestions are clear and on the table. The important thing is to agree on measures that we can no longer not evade. Honestly, there is a consensus on diagnosing the disease and almost a consensus on the treatment. There are also bold and responsible proposals on the table. Some say that we are late in approving the budget and the discussions in the cabinet are being repetitive. Frankly, I want everyone to know that working on the 2019 budget is not an ordinary work.
We are working to lay the foundations for a serious financial reform for the next five years and for the principles that we have to adopt in the 2020 and 2021 budgets. I have great hope that today’s session will be in that direction and that next week the budget will be sent to parliament.
Decisions need to be taken and the cabinet is there to take decisions and tell all the Lebanese that we have a chance that shouldn’t be wasted and a roadmap to stop squander, control spending and achieve reforms.
There is a proverb that says: It is better to have a temporary pain than permanent pain. We should not postpone things we can do today.
Our economy paid the price of postponement, hesitation and escape from reforms over many years.
Now we reached a wall that should be broken and we ought to embark on serious reforms and financial and economic policies that would contribute to reduce the deficit, manage the debt and reduce squander.
This is how we protect the economy, low-income people and the middle class, and preserve the dignity of all Lebanese.
Talking about the dignity of the Lebanese, I have two words to say about my personal feeling on the unacceptable offenses against the spirit of late Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir: As a Muslim and during the month of Ramadan, I felt as offended as my Maronite brothers, and maybe even more. As a Lebanese, I felt ashamed that there are people in my country who think like that and say such words. And as a human being, I remembered that one of the conditions of being human is to understand the meaning of death and the sanctity of death. Another condition is to take into consideration the feelings of human beings about what we say, in private or in public.
Also when we talk about the dignity of the Lebanese, it is imperative to say that the dignity of every Lebanese is linked to the dignity of the Arabs and any offense to any Arab country is an offense to Lebanon.
The consensus on disassociation and noninterference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries aimed at protecting Lebanon from the region’s struggles. The insistence to breach the disassociation policy is a direct call to hamper the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese in the Arab countries. We are all witnessing the tension in the region and the attacks targeting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. We in Lebanon do not need stances that threaten Lebanon’s economic interests and its relations with the Arab countries that always supported the Lebanese from all religions.
Insults lead to insults and attacks lead to attacks. It is a circle that doesn’t end. If anyone wants to submit bills to other countries, let him do that at the expense of these countries and not at the expense of the Lebanese.
You are the movement that always stood by Martyr Premier and by me, especially in the last elections. I thank you from all my heart for the work you are doing, and I tell you that we have to work more and be modest. We have to deal humbly with others, be patient and work. If you encounter a wall, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. You can go around the wall, find another way and try to open a door in it to continue just as Martyr Premier Rafic Hariri used to do.
From where did Rafic Hariri begin? Yesterday I invited children from orphanages to my house. Rafic Hariri was born in a simple family and you saw where he arrived. Each and every one of you can work hard, but we should work together and be one team. We have to end the scourge that everyone wants to be a leader. There is no leadership. It is not a about a leader, but a country. In one hundred years, they will remember Rafic Hariri who accomplished so much for Lebanon. They will talk about the person, how he was, how he became and what he did, and how he inspired all these youth. But inspiration is not to work each by himself. Rafic Hariri didn’t work alone. Many of his friends are here today. He was not a person who worked alone, but within a team. Every person with him would receive recognition for his work. Thus, all I ask is that you do not look at things from a personal point of view. It is about Lebanon and how we will rebuild it.