On Monday, the Constitutional Council (CC) suspended the application of nine articles (10, 39, 40, 56, 69, 83, 86, 87, 91) of the budget law for fiscal year 2024, following an appeal for invalidation—which was accepted—submitted a week earlier by 10 MPs from the Kataeb (Samy Gemayel, Nadim Gemayel, Salim el-Sayegh, Elias Hankach), Renewal (Michel Moawad, Fouad Makhzoumi, Ashraf Rifi) and Change (Mark Daou, Michel Doueihy, Waddah Sadek) parties. The signatories denounced the unconstitutionality of the law, published in the Official Gazette on February 15.

In fact, the 10 MPs argue that the nine articles are “unconstitutional” and that the Finance Act was passed without closing the accounts for the previous year. This is not the first time such an appeal has been lodged on the basis of accounts not being closed. The 2018 Budget Act was the subject of an appeal on the same grounds. This was rejected at the time.

The MPs also believe that these articles constitute “budgetary riders,” i.e. legislative provisions that have no place in the Finance Act and should be voted on alone. Budget riders are liable to be invalidated by the Constitutional Council.

The CC has one month to debate the articles it has suspended and rule on their merits, either by annulling or validating them.

It should be recalled that the CC had accepted a similar appeal submitted to it by the Lebanese Forces bloc. On February 19, it suspended the application of five articles of the budget law for fiscal year 2024.

The 10 MPs allege violation of Article 36, which requires voting by roll-call and by voice, except in the case of elections. According to the appeal, the budget vote did not respect this rule, which was requested by five MPs during the budget session. They also denounce the lack of “sincerity of parliamentary debates” and another illegality, which is “the non-conformity of the figures determined during the plenary assembly and those published in the Official Gazette.”