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The adoption of the budget by Parliament may seem like a routine procedure. However, if approved before the end of January, it would mark the first instance of a budget being adopted within the legally prescribed timeframe in nearly two decades. Members of Parliament are scheduled to convene on January 24 and 25 to discuss and vote on the 2024 Budget.

The Lebanese Parliament is set to vote on the 2024 Budget this Thursday. Typically, lawmakers are to gather on Wednesday for discussions on the proposed text. After months of review in the parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee, the overall budget amount, as put forth by the government, has not been amended, as it falls outside the prerogatives of the Finance Committee. However, the allocation of expenses and revenues has been modified.

If Parliament fails to approve the budget by the January 31 deadline, the government will be allowed to implement its original budget proposal, excluding any amendments made by the committee.

The Strong Republic Bloc

A source from the Lebanese Forces (LF) stated on Monday to This is Beirut that the Strong Republic bloc would participate in the session, “although we generally oppose legislating in the absence of a president. Some causes require going beyond this fundamental principle: we voted in favor of extending the term of the army commander because it is crucial for national security. We will also participate in the parliamentary session because it pertains to financial security.”

Ghada Ayoub, an MP from the Lebanese Forces (LF) and a member of the Finance and Budget Committee, also stated on Monday on Radio of All Lebanon that the session dedicated to the budget is not a legislative one, meaning that the LF’s participation is not contradictory to their position.

Ayoub further clarified that “the Finance Committee’s primary focus during the discussions was on preventing any changes to the tax system in Lebanon, followed by easing the burden on citizens. However, at the end of the debates, the Ministry of Finance’s report on revenues after the cancellation of taxes did not reach the MPs. We were surprised, upon its distribution two days ago, to discover that it included estimated revenues that were not originally integrated into the budget.”

The Strong Lebanon Bloc

The Strong Lebanon bloc of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) will hold a meeting on Tuesday to decide on its participation in the parliamentary session for the study and approval of the budget proposal.

It’s worth noting that MP Salim Aoun (FPM) announced on Monday that the bloc is considering three options: participating and engaging in discussions, participating and taking a stance, or abstaining from participating altogether.

On Monday, Ghada Ayoub commented regarding a proposal from the Strong Lebanon bloc aimed at adopting the 2024 Budget through a law designated with the character of double urgency to preserve the prerogatives of the President of the Republic. “It would have been wiser for those who are concerned about the president’s power to have elected him a year and a half ago.” According to Ayoub, no one is entitled to introduce an accelerated law regarding the budget project. The government prepares it and submits it to Parliament, which can either approve or reject it. The Parliament’s right to reject the budget and raise the issue of confidence in the government should not be impeded.

The Democratic Gathering Bloc

The parliamentary Democratic Gathering bloc from the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) will also take part in the session. This was confirmed by MP Marwan Hamadeh to This is Beirut

“We need to prevent the government from enacting, by decree, its disastrous law for the economy and for the Lebanese people, who will bear the burden of increased taxes and deficient public services,” stated Hamadeh. “The government’s approach is absurd, as it stems from a struggling economy to impose additional taxes. By doing so, we undermine both taxation and the prospect of achieving a positive growth rate,” added the MP.

Hamadeh specified that his bloc has never missed a presidential election session nor contributed to a lack of quorum, unlike the MPs from the Shiite tandem (Amal/Hezbollah) and Gebran Bassil’s bloc.

He asserted, “We are committed to voting on the budget before January 31,” and mentioned that the parliamentary committee had made commendable – even if not perfect – efforts.

Other Participants

The Change Coalition bloc, consisting of MPs Marc Daou, Waddah Sadek and Michel Douaihy, will participate in the session, as confirmed by Douaihy to This is Beirut. “The government’s proposed budget version is disastrous, and we must exert every effort to prevent the budget from being adopted through a government decree,” he specified. He described the government’s budget as aimed at funding public services and lacking in necessary reforms, acknowledging that the version drafted by the Finance Committee was an improvement, though not flawless. Douaihy added that the decision on voting had not yet been finalized.

The Kataeb bloc will decide in the coming hours.

The six members of the National Moderation bloc will participate in the session, as clarified by Sajih Attieh to This is Beirut, stating that the bloc would vote in favor of adopting the budget while providing constructive feedback.

As for the Renewal bloc, composed of MPs Michel Moawad, Ashraf Rifi, Fouad Makhzoumi and Adib Abdel Massih, it confirmed in a statement released on Monday evening that it would take part in the parliamentary session.