Cover story articles

Ball in their court

Ball in their court

This summer, after years of procrastination, Lebanon passed a law increasing salaries for public sector workers. To help offset the salary increase, Parliament approved new taxes. But, in a surprising move, a group of parliamentarians challenged the constitutionality of the tax law in front of Lebanon’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, which ruled in their

A multilateral tale

For 12 years, Lebanon did not ratify a state budget, and politicians have never offered an adequate reason to explain why. To understand what went wrong, we need to understand the process. Who should be doing what, and when should they be doing it? What does it actually take to create and ratify a budget,

Getting the books back in order

On paper, the Lebanese state should function. The constitution—frequently ignored as it may be—envisions a rational budgetary process that allows for planning, checks and balances among different branches of government, and an annual allocation of resources based on anticipated needs. In simple terms, every year the government should ask Parliament for the legal authority to

Return to sanity now

After years without a state budget, Parliament met in October and voted the 2017 budget into law. What Parliament should have done is pass the 2018 budget, because the current fiscal year is almost over. There are also allegations that Parliament broke the law and violated the constitution: To pass a budget an audit must

Lebanon’s fiscal conundrum

There are two arguments being made today. Both agree the state should maximize its share of benefit, though they do not agree on what is the maximum benefit achievable. Some aim for a bid round that is as competitive as more comparable bid rounds—while others demand a greater level of state participation. While it is

Icing on the cake

It came at the last minute. For two years, the Ministry of Finance and the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) have been drafting a tax law focused specifically on the oil and gas industry. In late September, Parliament approved it just in time for the law to potentially govern the first oil and gas exploration and

Tick tock

Some view it as a race against Israel Our neighbor—which is definitively not stealing Lebanon’s gas—closes its first offshore licensing round on November 15. Israel had previously awarded exploration licenses directly.Lebanon just postponed the close of its own first round—yet again—from September 15 to October 12. The new deadline, however, actually seems to have been

Program for a nation or national myth?

The egg as symbol of rebirth is powerful. It can inspire. In the case of Lebanon, the egg is more than a representation of fertility because it plays into the enduring myth that the constituents of this nation will rise from the ashes of their destruction. This myth also conceals a warning and question, however:

The anti-establishment

As a nation, Lebanon was doomed from the start. This is the unifying theme of the mainstream anti-establishment message. The country’s sectarian power-sharing arrangement spawned a cancer that prevented the growth of a national identity and crippled state institutions. Today, a “leader” in Lebanon cannot rally the nation. He can rally his community, or a

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