Slim budget draft in Cabinet
Higher shares for Public Works, Social Affairs
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The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has submitted the 2013 budget to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, said Minister of Finance Mohamad Safadi. The draft has capped public spending for the year at $14.1 billion, with a deficit of around $3.5 billion.

The MoF said it had cut spending by $1.3 billion from an earlier draft budget announced in September. The proposal did not include salary increases for public sector employees, as outlined in the controversial new salary scale.

The draft assigned higher allocations for some ministries, a source at the MoF said: “The budgets of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation and the Ministry of Social Affairs were doubled compared to the budget presented in September.” The source said that additional funds are needed to complete road and infrastructure works required, and to fulfill the basic needs of the growing number of Syrian refugees.

Because no state budget has been approved since 2005, the Government's annual spending strategy has been based on a uniform 12-month spending plan, in addition to treasury advances. The Government intends to settle public accounts from the last decade. In March 2012 the Cabinet had assigned international auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) to review the fiscal accounts of the government since 1993.

According to the MoF source, PWC is no longer undertaking this task: “Audits are being carried out by teams of the MoF, and will not be finalized anytime soon.” The source said “many receipts are missing and thus all accounts need political settlement.”
Reported by Hanadi Chami
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Date Posted: Mar 12, 2013