Safadi: Lack of Additional Funds Stops All Spending Except for Salariesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi has appeased fears on the fate of salaries of civil servants, saying the employees in state institutions will receive their wages but all other spending would stop if the government doesn’t make additional appropriations.
In remarks to As Safir daily published Friday, Safadi said: “Pending the approval of the additional funds, all spending would stop except for the payment of salaries for employees, contractors and pensioners in the public sector.”
His comment came against the backdrop of disputes between the March 8 majority and the March 14 opposition coalition which have prevented the legalization of the $5.9 billion extra-budgetary spending bill of Premier Najib Miqati’s government.
The March 14 forces have conditioned their approval of the 2011 spending bill at parliament to the legalization of $11 billion spent by the governments of ex-Premiers Fouad Saniora and Saad Hariri between 2006 and 2009.
Lebanon has been without a state budget since 2005.
During a session held at Baabda palace on Wednesday, March 8 cabinet ministers pressured President Michel Suleiman to resort to article 58 of the constitution and approve the bill. But he reiterated that he rejects to sign any decree that contains “legal and constitutional violations.”
Al-Liwaa newspaper quoted March 14 leadership sources as saying on Friday that the majority is seeking to legalize the spending while keeping the issue of the $11 billion spent by the previous governments without a solution.
The March 8 pressure on Suleiman to sign the bill would shove Lebanon into a political crisis that would increase the level of divisions between the two sides, the sources warned.
But Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun criticized Suleiman on Thursday for not using the authorities granted to him by the constitution.
He advised the president to resort to article 58 so that the lives of the Lebanese and mainly those who work in the public sector do not become the “captive of tight political interests.”