March 11, 2018 / 5:37 PM / 9 days ago

UPDATE 1-Lebanon finance minister says budget to be approved Monday

(Adds quotes, details, background)

BEIRUT, March 11 (Reuters) - Lebanon’s 2018 budget includes big reductions in spending plans and will be approved by the cabinet on Monday, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil told Reuters on Sunday.

“The budget has been amended, large cuts were made, the (planned) deficit has fallen from the numbers that were presented before and there is a type of balance and reforms in it,” he said.

Lebanon is under pressure to pass a budget and show it is willing to institute fiscal reforms before a donor meeting in France early next month.

Last year the government passed its first state budget since 2005 after years of wrangling between rival parties had all but brought political business to a halt.

Lebanon’s economy has been hit hard by the civil war in neighbouring Syria and it has one of the world’s highest rates of public debt at around 150 percent of gross domestic product.

Khalil was speaking before a meeting of the ministerial committee tasked with agreeing the budget, a politically fraught process in Lebanon’s coalition government. (Reporting by Laila Bassam Writing by Angus McDowall Editing by Peter Graff)

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