BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun signed a decree Tuesday, calling an extraordinary legislative session going into effect immediately until March 19, in an attempt to ratify the 2018 draft state budget ahead of the Paris IV donor conference on April 6.
On Monday, the Cabinet approved the 2018 draft budget following an expediated session before referring it to Parliament for ratification.
According to Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, the budget includes cuts that would decrease the deficit by LBP 220 billion compared to 2017, adding that no new taxes would be introduced.
Lebanon's budget deficit currently stands at LBP 8 trillion, developing into a significant hindrance for Lebanese officials aiming to raise around 16 billion dollars in Paris for the country's investment program.
According to article 32 of the Constitution, the general assembly begins its "meetings on the first Tuesday following March 15 and shall continue its meetings until the end of May. The second session shall begin on the first Tuesday following October 15." The first Tuesday following March 15 falls on the 20th of March.
In an attempt to expedite the ratification of the budget, Aoun called upon Article 33 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the “President of the Republic in consultation with the Prime Minister may summon the Chamber to extraordinary sessions by a Decree specifying the dates of the opening and closing of the extraordinary sessions as well as the agenda."
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