BEIRUT, Sept. 26, 2022 (Xinhua) The Lebanese parliament approved the general budget law for 2022 at the conclusion of a session held this evening (Monday), which is the fourth in the framework of discussing and approving the budget, whose approval exceeded the constitutional deadlines for more than 8 months.
The approval of the budget came, according to the official Lebanese National News Agency, with a majority of 63 votes in Parliament, 37 against, and 6 abstentions out of a total of 106 deputies who attended the session out of 128 members of Parliament.
Expenditures in the 2022 budget amounted to approximately 40,873 billion Lebanese pounds, while revenues amounted to 29,986 billion Lebanese pounds.
The most prominent of what was included in the budget was an increase in the salaries of civil and military public sector employees, retirees, contractors, and all wage earners in the state, by two times the basic salary.
The imports were calculated in the “customs dollar” budget at a value of 15,000 Lebanese pounds, according to what the caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced during the session.
And by calculating the customs dollar with its new tariff, a new price is added to the exchange market in Lebanon, which depends on 4 rates for the dollar, where the official exchange rate is 1515 Lebanese pounds, while banks spend the bank deposit dollars worth 8 thousand pounds and about 29 thousand on the “exchange” platform, in excess of 38,000 on the black market.
The opposition deputies focused on the government’s slow implementation of reforms and the increase in salaries, as it would lead to more printing of the currency, higher inflation and a further decrease in purchasing power.
The parliament session to approve the draft budget was accompanied by protests by retired soldiers and demonstrators who clashed with the security forces that tried to remove them from the parliament headquarters, which they managed to reach after passing security barriers.
Retired soldiers are demanding health coverage, increased social assistance, and exemption from income tax, a requirement that has been approved today.
The approval of the general budget 2022 and the unification of the currency exchange rate are among the conditions of the International Monetary Fund to help Lebanon, which is witnessing a collapse in its national currency.
On April 7, the IMF announced that it had reached a “principal agreement” with Lebanon regarding financing of $3 billion to be disbursed over a period of 4 years, according to a program that explains what Lebanon must do over the next four years with the aim of rebuilding the economy and restoring financial sustainability.
To sign the final agreement with Lebanon, the IMF requires that a number of measures be taken, including the approval of the draft budget law for the year 2022 and the draft “Capital Control” (capital control) law, in addition to passing legislation related to restructuring the banking sector and amending the law related to banking secrecy.
The political division and differences in viewpoints prevent the adoption of the required reforms, and the differences of political forces over the sharing of quotas and ministerial portfolios impede the process of forming a new government in the country, despite Najib Mikati’s mandate to form it since last June 23.
Since 2019, Lebanon has been suffering from a severe financial and economic crisis, embodied in the scarcity of foreign currency, the collapse of the value of the Lebanese pound, the imposition of restrictions on the withdrawal of bank deposits, the government’s suspension of external and internal debt repayments, the high rates of poverty, unemployment, inflation and fuel shortages. /ts/