Lebanon’s caretaker government will not be able to pay the salaries and additional remunerations and social benefits promised to public sector employees as of June, Minister of Information Ziad Makari declared at the end of a Cabinet session that lasted almost four hours and was attended by 16 ministers.

Makari said that the Minister of Finance informed the Cabinet that funds are unavailable to pay neither the salaries for the month of June nor the additional compensations unless parliament convened to pass a bill allowing the opening of lines of credit.

The council also commissioned the Minister of Finance to prepare a detailed report about the repercussions of the international arrest warrant issued against Central Bank Governor Riad Salame due to the central bank’s performance and asked the Minister of Justice to present an appropriate legal judgment on how to deal with that issue. 

It was also decided to postpone all nominations in the public sector for the time being upon the Prime Minister’s request. 

Nagib Mikati revealed that he will soon call for a Cabinet session dedicated to the Syrian refugee file ahead of an EU conference that will be held in Brussels on June 15. Asked if a visit to Syria is envisaged to discuss the refugees’ file, Makari said, “A decision will be taken at the session that will be dedicated solely to that issue to form an official delegation, including military representatives, to visit Syria.”

Mikati had kicked off the session, the sixth since the Cabinet took on the caretaker status, with a scathing attack against the Head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), MP Gebran Bassil, who had earlier denounced the meeting as unconstitutional in the absence of a President of the Republic. “Instead of fulfilling their constitutional and national duties, they condemn the presidential vacancy while blocking the electoral process,” Mikati said in his opening speech in obvious allusion to the FPM. 

He added that there is no logical explanation for the attitude of the FPM, whose ministers have been boycotting the council’s meetings while adding their own items to the agenda. Mikati’s harsh criticism of the FPM prompted Minister of Tourism Walid Nassar to attend Friday’s session only to walk out in protest 20 minutes later.

As for Salame’s arrest warrant, Mikati told the ministers that the case was discussed at a ministerial meeting earlier this week, where they agreed to refer it to the judiciary.

Additionally, the League of Public Administration Employees announced on Friday that a two-week strike will be observed in all administrations from May 29 until June 9 to press for better work conditions and readjustment of transport allocations.