Photo released by the Lebanese Parliament media office, shows new cabinet members, background, and Lebanese lawmakers, foreground standing before a debate for a vote of confidence, in the Lebanese parliament, in Beirut, Feb. 12, 2019.
Photo released by the Lebanese Parliament media office, shows new cabinet members, background, and Lebanese lawmakers, foreground standing before a debate for a vote of confidence, in the Lebanese parliament, in Beirut, Feb. 12, 2019.

BEIRUT - 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 prioritize 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 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.

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