At the end of March, Lebanon passed the 2018 state budget, the second budget passed in a six-month period after almost 12 years wihout any budget at all.
The 2018 state budget features a 0.06 percent decrease in total spending compared against the 2017 state budget, with current expenditures declining 4 percent and capital expenditures reduced by 12.6 percent.
For fiscal year 2018, the state’s total spending allocations declined about $9 million from 2017’s budget to around $15.8 billion (LL23.9 trillion).
In 2018 almost 46 percent of public spending—$7.3 billion (LL11 trillion)—will go toward common expenses, such as paying for interest on public debt, salaries and pension payments, and to subsidize the failing electricity utility Electricité du Liban (although the government claims this subsidy was not written into the 2018 budget). The budget’s common expenses declined about 4 percent when compared to 2017 allocations.
The Ministry of National Defense, responsible for the finances of the Lebanese Armed Forces, will receive about $2.1 billion (LL3.2 trillion) in allocations, a near 14 percent increase over its 2017 allocation. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education, overseeing the budgets of Lebanon’s public schools and public university system, will be allocated almost $1.4 billion (LL2.1 trillion), an increase of 22 percent over 2017. This year, the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, responsible for domestic security forces, Lebanon’s prison system, and for organizing parliamentary elections, will receive $1.1 billion (LL1.6 trillion), an allocation increase of 10 percent. Allocations to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers—responsible for such agencies as the Court of Accounts, the Council for Reconstruction and Development, the Central Administration of Statistics, funds such as the council of the south and the higher relief council, as well as the recently reactivated Economic and Social Council—declined by just over 1 percent to about $1 billion (LL1.5 trillion). The next largest spending priority was health, with the Ministry of Public Health at $483 million (LL729 billion), an allocation increase of 3 percent. The Ministry of Finance will be allocated $482 million (LL727 billion), a 15 percent increase over its 2017 allocation.