Hariri Sees Lebanon Cabinet Passing Landmark Budget Within Days

  • Parliament will discuss new set of taxes to finance wage hike
  • Lebanon has been without a state budget for 12 years

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday he expects the government to pass a draft state budget within days, the latest breakthrough that could pave the way for an economic recovery in a country plagued by political crises.

Lebanon has been without a state budget since 2005 amid a series of proxy confrontations between regional powers including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Hariri, a longtime Saudi ally, told Bloomberg in Beirut that Cabinet will pass the budget by “the end of this week or next week maximum.”

The draft, which is subject to parliamentary approval, will propose “simple” taxes, he said without elaboration. Lawmakers will then discuss other levies designed to finance public-sector wage increases, including raising the value-added-tax rate, he said. The wage increase will cost the government about $1 billion, Hariri said. 

Passing the budget would be the latest major step indicating rival politicians are overcoming differences to revive an economy battered by domestic turmoil and the war in neighboring Syria. In October, parliament elected a Hezbollah ally as president, ending a power vacuum that lasted more than two years. The government then passed two energy laws that could pave the way for investments by international oil and gas companies.

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