Draft legislation that could become Lebanon's official budget is on its way to parliament. Although such news isn't considered unusual in other countries, it is extraordinary in Lebanon, as the last time the country's lawmakers approved a draft budget was in 2005. Successive governments' attempts to pass budgets have been stymied by differences between two political parties, the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.
President Michel Aoun on April 12 inked a decree submitting the 2017 draft budget, which the Cabinet had approved March 27.
Government expenditures in the past 12 years were set by applying constitutional provisions that state when a final decision on the budget is delayed until after the end of January, “the budget of the previous year shall be adopted as a basis" until a new budget is approved.
Since 2009, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) has been accusing Fouad Siniora, who was prime minister from 2005 to 2009, of spending $11 billion in extra-budgetary funds without consulting parliament or abiding by the state oversight institutions during his term. Also, the March 8 Coalition and the FPM accused Siniora of scuttling all budgets since he left that office, as he has demanded since 2010 that the $11 billion in expenditures be discharged in exchange for the Future Bloc’s approval of the rank and salary scale bill and budgets. Siniora is the current leader of the Future Bloc.