BEIRUT — Najib Mikati's caretaker cabinet will meet on Monday to consider releasing funds to pay public servants' salaries on the basis of a constitutional budget deadline extension rule, caretaker Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada told L'Orient-Le Jour.
According to the constitution, the state is granted an additional month to adopt an annual budget if MPs fail to agree on the text before Dec. 31.
During this additional month, expenditures and revenues are executed in the same way as in January of the previous year.
However, this rule is being interpreted broadly by the Lebanese authorities.
The budget for the fiscal year 2023 has not yet reached the draft stage, which must be prepared by the Finance Ministry before being presented to cabinet.
Barring any surprises, salaries for civil servants are expected to be the same as in the 2022 budget, which multiplied the previous years' salaries by three based on the old fixed exchange rate of LL1,507.5 to the dollar.
In an interview on Al Jadeed TV Tuesday evening, Mikati had hinted at holding such a meeting "soon." Monday's planned cabinet meeting will be the fourth since the end of former president Michel Aoun's term on Oct. 31, 2022.
These meetings are controversial as several parties — mainly the Free Patriotic Movement founded by Michel Aoun and the Lebanese Forces — argue that without an acting president (traditionally a Maronite Christian), the caretaker Prime Minister (a Sunni Muslim) is unfairly assuming certain presidential powers.
Mikati has argued the cabinet meetings are aimed at discussing urgent issues facing Lebanon.
During the last three meetings, cabinet approved several measures, including aid to the education system and health care.