BEIRUT- Lebanon cannot ask for support at an upcoming donor conference unless it first passes the 2018 budget, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Monday. Political tensions had left Lebanon without a government budget from 2005 until it passed one last year. The government must now agree a budget for 2018. Khalil said there was a commitment to finalising the 2018 budget and referring it to parliament for approval by end of the month. If this is done within 15 days there is a possibility it will be approved before parliamentary elections scheduled for May, he said in a televised statement.
Lebanon is expected to ask donors at a variety of international meetings this year for support for its economy and army, and to help it deal with the approximately one million Syrian refugees it is hosting.
(Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Peter Graff) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +961)(0)(1954456;))