Lebanon approves first budget in 12 years

Lebanon’s parliament approves first state budget since 2005.

Ben Ariel ,

Flag of Lebanon
Flag of Lebanon

Lebanon’s parliament on Thursday approved the first state budget in 12 years, Reuters reported.

Successive governments have failed to pass annual budgets due to a string of political crises since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

“(Passing the budget) is a fundamental step on the state’s path to reinstating order in the public finances,” Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil said after the vote.

Passing a budget was a priority for the government of Rafik’s son, Saad al-Hariri, which took office in January.

Hariri described the 2017 budget as an “historic achievement”, adding that his government would strive to return the country to financial and political health.

The budget passed after three days of discussion by 61 votes for and four against. Eight members of parliament abstained.

Lebanon’s economic growth has been hurt by years of paralysis in government decision-making and six years of war in neighboring Syria, which has spilled over into Lebanon. Growth slowed to just over 1 percent a year from an average of 8 percent before the Syrian war.

Hariri is anti-Syria and a fierce opponent of Hezbollah, which backs the government of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria and is actively involved in the fighting there.

Nevertheless Hezbollah, which has a strong political presence in Lebanon, is a member of Hariri's government and two of its members are cabinet ministers.