President Michel Suleiman is mulling to issue a decree on a $5.9 billion extra-budgetary 2011 spending over fears that public sector employees would fail to receive their salaries and state projects would stop by the end of May.
Suleiman discussed the issue with the head of the parliamentary finance and budget committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, at Baabda palace on Wednesday.
Sources close to the president told As Safir daily on Thursday that Suleiman is studying his options after he asked for clarifications from the lawmaker on the remarks of the committee on the $5.9 billion bill that was referred by Premier Najib Miqati’s cabinet to parliament for approval.
But the legislature failed to give the green light to the spending over lack of quorum caused by a dispute between the March 14-led opposition and the March 8 forces on extra-budgetary spending made by the previous governments of ex-PMs Fouad Saniora and Saad Hariri.
The presidential sources said the parliament has still a chance to discuss the bill but stressed that Suleiman could resort to article 58 of the constitution which allows him to issue a bill deemed urgent by the government after the failure of the legislature to approve it within forty days following its transfer to the chamber of deputies and its inclusion on the agenda of the discussions.
Kanaan, who is a member of MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc, told As Safir that the decree should be swiftly issued to allow the government to fund several projects amid an absence of an official budget since 2005.
He also revealed that he asked the government through the speakership on the reasons behind the delay in the adoption of the 2012 budget six months after the end of the constitutional deadline.
Despite As Safir’s report, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour quoted Suleiman as saying that his authorities in issuing decrees are linked to the state budget but not the spending of previous years.
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