Lebanon's parliament approves country's first budget since 2005

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 19, 2017 3:13 PM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's parliament on Thursday approved the first state budget in 12 years, a vital step toward reforming the fragile economy and preventing rising debt spinning out of control.

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.

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

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

A main obstacle to passing the 2017 and previous budgets has been demands from some politicians that an audit of extra-budgetary spending from previous years be carried out.

But on Wednesday parliament approved a law allowing the budget to be passed before such an audit is completed and giving the minister of finance up to a year to carry it out.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Alison Williams)