Lebanese parliament approves 2024 budget amid heavy criticism

By [e]blt
  • World
  • Saturday, 27 Jan 2024

BEIRUT, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese parliament approved the 2024 budget on Friday after three days of heated discussions, the National News Agency reported.

The 2024 budget was met with heavy criticism as it imposed several tax increases aimed at generating more revenues for the debt-stricken country.

It imposed a 7 percent tax on merchants who benefit from subsidies previously offered by the central bank.

According to its proposals, companies, banks, and currency-exchange shops are to pay 17 percent of their transaction volume performed via Sayrafa, the central bank's exchange platform.

It also committed candidates for parliament elections to pay a fee of up to 200 million Lebanese pounds and candidates for municipal elections to pay 5 million pounds.

In addition, individuals who hire foreign workers need to pay 2 million pounds for their visas and 4 million pounds for their work permits, while companies have to pay 15 million pounds and 45 million pounds for visas and work permits of their foreign employees, respectively.

Lawmaker Ghassan Hasbani, also former deputy prime minister, criticized the budget, saying it "does not include any real reform nor contain any reform in the public sector to improve the state revenue."

For his part, lawmaker Abdul Rahman Bizri said this budget is "distinctly tax-oriented and comes at a time of rampant inflation and high prices," voicing his concern that "the tax collection will be at the expense of committed and low-income groups."

Lebanon has been facing an unprecedented financial crisis since 2019. Experts have long urged the authorities to start with financial reforms on the cabinet level by reducing the state's expenses and fixing its public finances.

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