Lebanon’s parliament on Thursday approved a government budget for the first time since 2005. For 12 years, political crises and wars have forced Lebanon’s state institutions to operate without a budget, an economic aberration that has angered many Lebanese.
But after three days of debate, lawmakers on Thursday passed the budget — for the current financial year, not for 2018. Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who called the vote “historic”, said the 2018 budget could be discussed as early as next week. Although the total figures for income or expenditure was not disclosed.
Some lawmakers criticised the approval of amounts already spent, describing the debate prior to the vote as a “masquerade” and an attempt to hide financial wrongdoing in a country where corruption is commonplace. Since its devastating 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon has been weighed down with endemic corruption and a national debt estimated at 140 percent of GDP.