Miqati Scrambles to Resolve Spending Dispute as Cabinet Members Become ‘Captives of Rigid Stances’إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Premier Najib Miqati is exerting every effort to guarantee a cabinet consensus on the $5.9 billion extra-budgetary spending of 2011 to avoid an embarrassment after the discussion of the issue was postponed for the second week in a row on Wednesday.
Sources close to Miqati told An Nahar daily published Friday that the solution to the spending crisis continues to face obstacles but hoped that a session set by the PM for next week would give him enough time to find an exit to the bickering between the cabinet’s different members.
The cabinet postponed the discussion of the bill that would authorize the spending of $5.9 billion to next Wednesday after President Michel Suleiman and March 8 ministers held onto their stances.
A session last week that was dedicated to discuss the issue was also postponed.
Hizbullah, Amal and the Free Patriotic Movement are pressuring Suleiman to sign the bill based on constitutional prerogatives but the president is insisting that both the cabinet and the parliament should assume their responsibilities in that regard.
Despite Miqati’s hopes in resolving the issue, informed sources told An Nahar that there is a full lack of consensus among the different parties in the government.
They “have become the captives of their rigid stances, laying doubt in the usefulness of giving a one-week deadline to find a solution to the issue,” the sources said.
But the head of the parliamentary finance and budget committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who is an FPM official, told the newspaper that the spending approval is being paralyzed by al-Mustaqbal bloc’s rejection to guarantee a quorum in parliament and Suleiman’s refusal to sign the decree into law.
“Any other proposal would be aimed at wasting time and would not give any practical solution to the problem,” he stressed.
The committee led by Kanaan had expressed reservations on the spending bill which later Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi redrafted to correct the irregularities.
The March 8 ministers are pressuring Suleiman to sign it to avoid discussion of the draft law in parliament over fears that March 14 opposition lawmakers, including al-Mustaqbal bloc MPs, would reiterate their call for a comprehensive solution to the overspending.
The opposition stresses that the 2006-2009 accounts by the governments of ex-PMs Fouad Saniora and Saad Hariri should be settled first.