Lebanon parliament approves new government

The government will prioritise economic reforms needed to bring Lebanon's public debt under control

epa07369999 Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a ceremony to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the assassination of his father, late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in Beirut, Lebanon, 14 February 2019. The inscription on podium reading in Arabic 'The country continues with your work'. Hariri was assassinated along with 14 other people when a massive explosion hit his motorcade in Beirut, Lebanon on 14 February 2005.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
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Lebanon's parliament gave the new coalition government the green light to start working with a vote of confidence on Friday after a televised session to debate its proposed policies.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has said the government will prioritise economic reforms needed to bring Lebanon's massive public debt under control.

The government was agreed this month following wrangling over the make-up of the cabinet that had lasted since soon after a parliamentary election last May.

Most of the major parties represented in parliament have places in the cabinet, including those of President Michel Aoun, the Western-backed Mr Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, as well as the Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

The reforms the government plans to pursue could be "difficult and painful", but are required to avoid a worsening of economic, financial and social conditions, its statement of policy said.

The government has pledged a "financial correction" equal to at least one percent of GDP a year over five years, starting with this year's budget.

This would be achieved by boosting revenues and cutting spending, starting with transfers to the state-run power company, which the World Bank has said represents a "staggering burden" on public finances.