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Parliament approved the draft budget for fiscal year 2024 after examining it article by article. More than half the articles were amended. It was adopted within the time limit set by the Constitution, a first in almost 20 years.

Parliament approved the draft budget for fiscal year 2024 on Friday after studying it article by article.

The draft budget amended by the Budget and Finance Committee comprises 96 articles, 37 fewer than the version sent by the government. The latter accounts for expenditures of around LBP 295 thousand billion or $3.2 billion. No deficits are forecast, and revenues are expected to cover expenditures.

Various income and capital taxes account for 7.5% of total revenues (around $240 million), tax revenues for 77.8% (LBP 295 thousand billion), and VAT for 32% of total revenues.

Budgetary reserves were reduced from $871 million, or 26% of expenditure, to $223 million, or 6.8% of expenditure. The government had increased these reserves in order to be able to spend them during the year without recourse to Parliament.

Articles one to eleven were ratified without modification, as amended by the Budget and Finance Committee. The proposal by the Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan (Article 10), to end Treasury advances was adopted.

In this regard, Kanaan expressed his satisfaction at having forced the government to “undertake a reform process and return to Parliament with additional funds so that it does not borrow and spend as it wishes without a ceiling, as was previously the case.”

Article 14, which subjected concert organizers to VAT, was deleted.

In particular, the increase in election candidacy fees to LBP 200 million was adopted. The same applies to Article 43, which increases fines for traffic offenses by a factor of ten, and to articles concerning taxes on alcoholic beverages.

Article 83 on higher taxes on imported tobacco and electronic cigarettes was confirmed. Thus, packs of 20 cigarettes or electronic cigarette refills are subject to a tax of LBP 11,500, and a kilo of hookah tobacco is subject to a tax of LBP 115,000.

Article 46, prescribing taxes on resort owners who prevent citizens from enjoying the beach, was adopted.

Articles 40, 41, and 42, concerning the mayor’s stamp, were ratified. The basic value of the mayor’s stamp was increased from 1,000 Lebanese pounds to 50,000.

The draft budget approved salary adjustments for civil servants. LBP 20,000 billion will be allocated to finance “productivity bonuses.”

A tenfold increase in municipal taxes on housing was approved, as well as a 10, 15, and 30-fold increase in municipal taxes on businesses, depending on the floor.

Parliament also ratified an exceptional tax for merchants who benefited from Banque du Liban’s support, equivalent to 10% of business volume, including oil companies.

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