Thursday, April 9
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CABINET CONVENES AT BAABDA PALACE: FREEING 39 MILLION USD FROM A WORLD BANK LOAN TO EQUIP GOVERNMENTAL HOSPITALS AGAINST CORONA

The Cabinet convened today at the Presidential Palace, in a session chaired by President Michel Aoun and attended by Prime Minister, Hassan Diab and Ministers.

Cabinet decisions were to release the loan provided by the World Bank for Governmental hospitals to confront Corona, which is valued 39 Million US Dollars. The Cabinet also requested international organizations to assume responsibilities in terms of caring for the displaced Syrians and Palestinian refugees, to provide necessary healthcare and proactive services, to fight Corona.

In addition, the Council of Ministers also decided to double internet speed and consumption volume for the final and insured internet subscribers on OGERO network, for free until end of April.

At the beginning of the session, President Michel Aoun stressed the necessity to continue taking preventive measures to limit spread. The President also welcomed the assistance which could be provided to Lebanon in this sense.

Prime Minister, Hassan Diab stated that "The number of infections in Lebanon, till now, is among the lowest in any country worldwide, numerically speaking, or in relative to population. It is true that the number of infected individuals may rise, however this is a global situation that worldwide countries have not been able to prevent. Lebanon is not an isolated island".

"The positive results of the suspension of the repayment of Eurobonds began to be translated quickly. The Finance Minister informed us about the decrease in debt service securities in Lebanese pounds by 2.24%, roughly equivalent to around 300 Billion Pounds. This is a very important positive indication. We also started studying the capital Control Bill project" PM Diab added.

Cabinet Statement:

After the session ended, Information Minister, Manal Abdel Samad, read the Cabinet's statement:

"The Council of Ministers convened in its weekly session, chaired by His Excellency the President of the Republic and attended by the Prime Minister, and Ministers. At the beginning of the session, His Excellency pointed out that the financial markets are still relatively calm after the Government announced the suspension of the payment of Eurobonds, which matured this March 9th, indicating that it is required to speed up the comprehensive plan that the Government referred to in its Policy statement.

Then His Excellency spoke about the measures taken to combat the Corona, stressing the need to persevere in taking preventive measures that prevent its spread, welcoming the assistance that can be provided to Lebanon in this framework.

Then, PM Diab said:

"Corona has become a Lebanese priority. There is a real state of terror, and there is political investment against the Government in this matter, in addition to an organized intimidation campaign.

The Government took all possible measures, and what is being said about Lebanon's delay is not true. On the contrary, measures have become a model for some European countries and the world. Unfortunately, some deal with matters on the basis of "It is a goat even if it flies" because of allegations and accounts even if it causes harm to the country.

Financially, we all clearly felt the great satisfaction at all levels with the decision taken by the Government last week to suspend the payment of Eurobonds, and it appears that the positive results have begun to show quickly and on multiple levels".

Cabinet Decisions:

Afterwards, the Cabinet studied Agenda topics and took appropriate decisions:

- Concerning "Corona", the preparation of Governmental hospitals in the governorates is in full swing, in parallel with the release of the loan provided by the World Bank, which is intended to equip Government hospitals to cope with Corona, and its value is $ 39 million. The Health Minister pointed to the initiative of some private hospitals to allocate departments to receive the suspected epidemic. He also stressed the importance of compulsory home quarantine and social protection from non-contact with the injured, and included, for example, the cases from Egypt and France, which each resulted in the injury of about ten others, which strengthens the need to adhere to the decisions and guidelines of the National Committee to combat Corona. The Minister stated that two thermal surveillance devices were received from a Chinese company to monitor arrivals from Masnaa region.

- The Council of Ministers asked international organizations to assume their responsibilities in terms of caring for the displaced Syrians and Palestinian refugees to provide the necessary health care and pre-emptive services for them in relation to "Corona".

- The Council of Ministers decided to double the speed of the Internet and double the volume of consumption for the end-users of the internet services, affiliated and insured on the Ministry of Communications OGERO network in residential places, free of charge and for a period ending in the end of April 2020, within the available technical capabilities.

- The Cabinet completed the research with the waste plan according to the concept set by the Environment Minister. After the available options were presented, the relevant Ministerial committee was charged with studying these options and returning to the Cabinet to take a decision on them.

-As for the issue related to the appointment of a Lebanese law firm to handle international cases to defend the interests of the state in the Al-Fattoush case, the Minister of Justice was tasked to do the necessary to secure the defense of rights of the Lebanese state, and work to end the file.

On the other hand, Justice Minister, Marie-Claude Najm, informed the Council of Ministers of the developments in the matter of transfers and judicial appointments, and noted the work of the Supreme Judicial Council and the advantages contained in the project prepared from it.

Najm stated that she is awaiting the Supreme Judicial Council's response on this matter, hoping that all efforts will be poured into strengthening the capabilities of the judiciary in this crucial stage of the country's history.

The Cabinet session was preceded by a meeting between the President and Prime Minister, during which agenda topics were discussed.

Source: National News Agency