Berri speaks with Hasan Khalil during a Parliament session to discuss the budget in Beirut, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Economists cautiously welcomed the ratification of the 2017 budget by the Parliament, the first bill to be approved by the House since 2005 . The approval of the budget may improve Lebanon's image among the international community and rating agencies, but the questions which the government failed to answer included why the expenditures jumped so high despite countless pledges to reduce spending, and why the Finance Ministry did not complete the closing accounts of the extra-budgetary spending over the last 15 years.According to the 2017 budget presented by Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, the government expenditures were projected to be LL23.8 trillion ($15.8 billion) while revenues stood at LL16.384 trillion ($10.93 billion), leading to a deficit of spending of $4.86 billion, or 9 percent of the country's GDP.Economist Ghazi Wazni wondered why the Finance Ministry did not finalize all of the closing accounts of the extra-budgetary spending.
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