Cabinet Delays Discussion of Financial Spending over Lack of Consensusإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The cabinet on Wednesday postponed the discussion of the thorny issue of financial spending to a session that will be held next Wednesday over lack of consensus among the government’s components.
During the cabinet session at the Baabda Palace, President Michel Suleiman “reiterated his rejection of signing the L.L.8,900 billion decree, while some ministers insisted that he should sign it,” NBN television reported, noting that the rhetoric was “totally calm” during the session despite the disagreement.
NBN also noted that the session did not witness any clash between the ministers of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, who have recently been engaged in a heated war of words.
MTV quoted Prime Minister Najib Miqati as saying during the session: “If there is no spending or appointments being made in the presence of this government, if there is only demonstrations, then why should it remain in power?”
An Nahar daily reported Wednesday that Miqati would seek during the session to convince the government’s different parties of a new plan aimed at ending the bickering on the $5.9 billion extra-budgetary spending of 2011.
An Nahar did not give details on his new proposal, only saying that the prime minister would make a last-ditch effort to solve the crisis and avoid embarrassment.
MTV also quoted Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil as saying that “nothing will be passed.”
“The issue of spending was not passed during the session the way Hizbullah, AMAL Movement and the FPM wanted it to go, and they in turn blocked the approval of a L.L.4,900 billion plan that would secure spending until July,” MTV said.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn told NBN that “the army's needs will be met and the dispute over the issue of financial spending will not affect its needs.”
Ahead of the session, Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi told reporters that he would “propose a L.L.4,900 billion plan which would secure the spending until July.”
“From now until that date, the government is obliged to approve the state budget, and if this amount of money was not approved, the basic needs, especially those related to the army and the security forces, would be at risk,” Safadi added.
For his part, Hizbullah’s State Minister for Administrative Development Mohammed Fneish said: “We want a solution to the issue of financial spending.”
Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, who is also Speaker Nabih Berri’s political aide, said: “We still hope the president will sign the L.L.8,900 billion decree which is on the session’s agenda.”
Suleiman is reportedly fed up with the pressure exerted on him to sign the controversial $5.9 billion extra-budgetary spending bill and Aoun’s campaign against him.
Baabda palace visitors told An Nahar daily in remarks published Wednesday that Suleiman was “fed up” after Aoun reiterated his accusations that the president was causing a paralysis in state institutions by refusing to sign the bill.
“Things have reached the red line,” the visitors also told As Safir newspaper.
Aoun accused the president on Tuesday of forcing the government to violate the constitution by spending illegally in an attempt to appease the March 14 opposition concerning its demands to find a comprehensive solution to the extra-budgetary spending made since 2005, the last time Lebanon had an official state budget.
Baabda palace sources told As Safir that Suleiman rejects allegations that he is seeking to settle the dispute on the $11 billion spent by the governments of ex-Premiers Fouad Saniora and Saad Hariri.
“Had the president wanted to cover up the $11 billion spending as some claim, he wouldn’t have proposed a solution to the $5.9 billion,” they said.
The visitors however quoted Suleiman as saying that the March 8 forces “agree outside the cabinet on whatever they want and they go there to impose” their opinion.
The president reportedly stressed that he rejects to cover any “political dispute” between the March 8 majority and the opposition through a constitutional violation.
Suleiman is insisting that signing the $5.9 billion bill is a constitutional violation as it includes irregularities that should be settled by the parliament through the adoption of the reservations expressed by the legislature’s spending and budget committee.