BEIRUT — Starting next week, Lebanon's caretaker government will hold a series of meetings to examine a preliminary draft of the 2023 state budget, which the Ministry of Finance said it officially submitted on Monday.
The preliminary draft will then be "examined, approved, and forwarded to Parliament in accordance with the norms," the Finance Ministry said in a press statement.
The prime minister's office announced that the first of the meetings to examine the 2023 preliminary draft budget are scheduled for next Monday at 3 p.m. The Finance Ministry released no details concerning the figures in the draft budget.
Outgoing Finance Minister Youssef Khalil previously indicated that the draft would include the fiscal adjustment measures adopted this year, such as an increased exchange rate used to calculate customs duties and value-added tax (VAT), as well as salary increases for civil servants.
A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, told L'Orient-Le Jour that the finalization of the government's preliminary draft budget had been delayed by "staffing problems" within the Ministry of Finance.
Civil service work was recently interrupted by a series of strikes launched to demand wage adjustments in response to the collapse of the national currency, which has lost more than 98 percent of its value since the start of Lebanon's crisis four years ago.
The draft budget is only the first step in a process that should lead to the adoption of a state budget — also known as the Finance Act — that would organize public spending and revenue over the given year.
The preliminary draft budget drawn up by the Ministry of Finance must be examined, amended, and approved by the cabinet. It is then forwarded to Parliament, which sends it to the parliamentary committees before examining and approving it during the ordinary autumn session (on the first Tuesday after Oct. 15).
The entire process of adopting the 2023 state budget should have been completed by the end of January.
In April 2022, Lebanon pledged to launch a series of reforms to rescue its economy. However, the authorities have made little progress.