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Parliament approved the nine-month overdue 2022 budget with a deficit of over LL10 trillion, but included salary raises for public sector employees. The budget received 63 votes in favor, 37 against and six abstentions. The International Monetary Fund — which stipulated Lebanon must adopt a credible, balanced budget as a prerequisite to accessing a multi-billion dollar aid package — previously demanded the Sayrafa exchange rate be used in the budget calculations. However, the head of the Finance and Budget Committee, Ibrahim Kanaan, told L'Orient Today that the exchange rate used to calculate the budget was set at LL15,000, further obfuscating attempts to find a unified exchange rate. During the session, MPs continued to voice complaints about the text, particularly a lack of clarity in figures supplied by the Finance Ministry and “unrealistic” income projections. “The increase in salaries will only activate the money printing press and increase inflation,” Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel said, as protesters demanding improved compensation rallied around Parliament. Security forces launched teargas to disperse protesters. "We will strive to dissolve the parliamentary police immediately," Forces of Change MP Halimé El Kaakour said yesterday evening, responding to the security apparatus’ alleged affronts against MP Cynthia Zarazir while she was in the crowd of protesters — apparently indicative of a pattern of abuse of power by the police body stretching back to Oct. 17, 2019, when many protesters were injured in mass demonstrations around the country.
Banque du Liban lowered the monthly dollar withdrawal limit on its Sayrafa platform to $400 while banks began enforcing strict security measures on the first day of a partial reopening following a weeklong closure due to a series of holdups. A man attempting to barge into a Saida branch of Blom Bank was repelled by security staff and State Security personnel, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in southern Lebanon reported. Some banks welcomed only a single customer at a time while others required customers to schedule appointments. Several banks’ branches remained closed. Queues formed at a number of ATMs, which were closed despite the guarantee by the Association of Banks in Lebanon to continue providing ATM services. Outraged depositors carried out nine holdups in a single week this month, seven of which occurred in one day, forcibly demanding the right to withdraw their own funds.
Ukraine “stands by Lebanon during the economic crisis,” Tripoli port head Ahmad Tamer said yesterday, welcoming a Ukrainian shipment of corn and vegetable oil. The Ukrainian vessel docked in Tripoli carrying 7,000 tons of corn and 20,000 tons of vegetable oil — "proof of the tireless and unremitting Ukrainian efforts to help the Lebanese,” Ukrainian Ambassador to Lebanon Ihor Ostash said, promising further shipments of cargo. According to the Ukrainian ambassador, Lebanon has received at least five ships carrying Ukrainian produce since the Russian invasion, including shipments of wheat, grains, barley and corn. The first cereals exported by Ukraine since the Feb. 24 Russian invasion were intended for delivery to Lebanon in August, to help with the “circumstances” the country is facing. However, the ship “changed course before it reached its declared destination.”
The Security Council for South Lebanon announced heightened security measures in response to a series of security incidents in Saida last week and over the weekend. The measures include increased security patrols, stricter punishments for law violations and “secretive measures.” On Friday, a man died in Saida after being stabbed during an argument. Several people were injured in a separate incident. Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi announced stricter security measures as part of a “sustainable” security plan for northern Lebanon earlier in September, in response to deadly clashes in the area. Mawlawi said that the "social crisis due to the economic and financial circumstances” heightened the risk of security incidents and demanded increased vigilance from security forces.
Entry to archaeological and cultural sites is free today to celebrate the International Day of Tourism, caretaker Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada announced.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “‘They are pushing our children toward a sure death’”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Parliament approved the nine-month overdue 2022 budget with a deficit of over LL10 trillion, but included salary raises for public sector employees. The budget received 63 votes in favor, 37 against and six abstentions. The International Monetary Fund — which stipulated Lebanon must adopt a credible, balanced budget as a...