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Lebanon’s parliament to begin debate on new budget as protests continue


Lebanon’s parliament to begin debate on new budget as protests continue

Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon’s parliament will today begin debating the government’s budget, the first piece of legislation since prime minister Saad Hariri’s resignation on October 29.

Lebanon’s new prime minister, Hasan Diab, and his cabinet were only sworn into office last week. The budget is a much-awaited response to political and economic crises that have effectively hamstrung the country since October.

The budget will run at a deficit of 7% of GDP to ease the country’s historically high levels of government debt. It will also try to quell public dissent by increasing state guarantees for bank deposits, benefiting 86% of depositors, while people struggling to repay subsidised loans will get a six-month grace period.

The new budget is expected to pass a parliament that is satisfied the new cabinet represents all the religious and political factions required by Lebanese political convention. However, it is unlikely to end the mass protests of workers that ultimately forced Hariri from power. The new government faces criticisms that it is still a product of President Michel Aoun and his allies, including Hezbollah, and not technocratic enough to handle the country’s economic issues.

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