In the past few years, Arab and foreign embassies in Lebanon demanded the inclusion of more vehicles in the customs exemption scheme following an increase in their diplomatic workforce. Amid the indiscriminate increase in the number of diplomatic license plates and as low-profile employees given occasionally access to diplomatic cars, the diplomatic license plate has lost its symbolic value, noting that the current regulations have set the number of diplomatic license plates at two per embassy, with a possibility to raise the number if needed. However, the Lebanese government meets the demands of embassies without investigating if there is any urgency for the requested license plates, in consistency with its open foreign policy and its wish not to infuriate foreign countries, particularly the major powers.
Legal framework of exemption
Exemptions, especially customs exemptions, are granted on the basis of two laws:
- Articles 300 and 304 of the Customs Law stipulate exempting the cars intended to be used by embassies or formal commissions from customs duties. The number of the exempted cars shall be two and may be raised pursuant to a decision taken by the Higher Customs Council upon the proposition of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the approval of the Cabinet. The customs exemption also covers the construction materials used in building or renovating embassies or commissions, with the exception of those materials that make part of national production. These privileges and exemptions are not granted unless legislation at the home country of the diplomatic mission or the consulate allows similar or even better prerogatives to the members of the Lebanese mission. Otherwise, privileges and exemptions shall be reciprocated within the framework that is being applied in the relevant countries.
- Law no. 114, dated December 7, 1991 grants some exemptions to international non-governmental organizations or to those regional federations established with the consent or upon the recommendation of the Arab League Council or within the framework of the Economic Council of the Arab League or the organizations affiliated with the League, provided that these organizations have their headquarters in Lebanon. Exemptions include customs duties, construction taxes and stamp duties. Salaries are not tax exempt.
The Customs Law thus allows any one embassy two tax-free cars but also includes a contrasting provision authorizing a higher number should the need arise. Hence, most embassies have far exceeded the limit as illustrated clearly in Tables 1 and 2.
شاهد الجدول كاملا
شاهد الجدول كاملا