Against the background of political tension in Lebanon over the past few years, particularly after the fall of the Hariri government and with the political stalemate in the US Congress, American aid to the country has slowed to a different pace.
The US State Department’s statistics, which were published yesterday [June 25] to enhance the transparency of the aid program, show that US aid to Lebanon has declined. In the 2009 budget, US aid to Lebanon reached $240 million, including aid from the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). So far, $98.9 million was spent and $85.7 million was allocated to specific programs.
As for fiscal year 2010, Congress approved a total of $238 million for aid to Lebanon. The actual spending amounted to $42 million, while $85.4 million was allocated to specific programs. For the fiscal year 2011, the aid totaled $186 million. Of that, $43.8 million has been spent so far, and $39.5 million was allocated for specific programs. This indicates that there is $55.4 million in aid remaining from the fiscal year 2009, $110 million from 2010 and $102.7 million from 2011.
In fiscal year 2012, Congress approved a $191 million aid budget to Lebanon. However, nothing has been spent or allocated so far. As for fiscal year 2013, the State Department requested an amount of $167.5 million, but Congress has yet to approve the federal budget that was sent from the White House to Capitol Hill in February. The budget is not expected to be approved until next year.
The federal budget that was put forward by the Obama administration for fiscal year 2013 included $3.7 trillion for actual expenditures. The administration expects a deficit of $901 billion. The fiscal spending for the State Department and USAID represents roughly 1% of the federal budget. The State Department’s budget and operations reached $51.6 billion, which is an increase of 1.6% when compared with 2012. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2013 reached $525.5 billion, a decrease of 1% compared with fiscal year 2012.
In 2011, $101.6 million was allocated for “peace and security,” including $152,000 in aid for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). An amount of $178,000 was expected to be allocated for “peace and security” in 2012. In the same framework, the administration also requested $161,000 for fiscal year 2013 from Congress. According to experts, the US contribution constitutes one-third of UNIFIL’s annual budget. From the 2011 budget, $13.6 million was allocated for educational and social services. Meanwhile, $9 million was allocated for economic development and $5.5 million for civil society. So far, the actual spending of fiscal year 2011 has been $7.6 million on health services, $8.3 million on educational and social services, $11.5 million on economic development, $5.5 million on environment, $2.7 million on “good governance,” $1.1 million on the “rule of law and human rights,” $1.4 million on “political competition and consensus building” and $1.1 million on civil society.
As for the “foreign-military financing” program, the expected US military aid for the upcoming phase will be allocated from the annual budgets of the years 2009 and 2010 within an approved work plan with the Lebanese army. The military-aid budget for fiscal year 2011 reached $74.8 million and $100 million for 2012, which was later reduced to $75 million. For fiscal year 2013, the administration requested $75 million from Congress to be allocated for the Lebanese-army aid program. This indicates that there is a possibility to amend some of these amounts in case the entire aid package is not delivered, regardless of whether the aid is was from Washington or Beirut.