Minister Says Government Opting for 'Harshest' Austerity Measures

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Minister Says Government Opting for 'Harshest' Austerity Measures

The government convened Sunday night to resume discussions over the 2019 draft budget, putting the issue of public employees' salary cuts on hold until the total deficit reduction achieved so far in the blueprint is assessed.

"The topic of salary cuts was not discussed pending the outcome that the measures we have approved so far will yield in terms of reducing the budget deficit," Information Minister Jamal Jarrah told reporters following the four-and-a-half-long session which ended at 2:00, AM at the Grand Serail.

"We still have to see if the endorsed measures are enough or not," he pointed out.

Jarrah said that the budget will include major and significant measures that would contribute to the deficit decrease, saying that it is the first time that the government opts for such "harsh" steps.

"We will take a decision on the public servants' salary cuts based on the volume and financial outcome of the already-endorsed reductions."

During its Sunday session, the government approved the reduction of motorbikes registration fees to curb illegalities, increase of tax evasion penalties as well as airport taxes for inbound flights, and hike in work permit fees for foreigners.

The Cabinet also approved the reduction of the state's allocations to public institutions by 10 to 50 percent.

Free schools will become subject to educational inspection whenever they seek state funding, Jarrah also noted.

The government is set to convene again on Moday at noon.