Saturday, August 15
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CABINET DELAYS ALAIN BIFFANY’S RESIGNATION, APPROVES SENTINELS APPOINTMENTS IN FAVOR OF CUSTOM CONTROL

President Aoun: “Everything said about the economic situation does not alter our conviction and commitment in working to achieve the financial and economic rescue plan, in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund”.

 

President Aoun called for speeding up the implementation of taken decisions, and reforms demanded by the international community.

 

The Prime Minister confirmed continuous work despite all difficulties, and revealed an encouraging atmosphere from Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar.

 

PM Diab: “We have reports of plans to block the Government’s work from within the administration. Some are making contacts to persuade the Arab countries not to assist Lebanon”.

 

 

 

President Michel Aoun asserted that “Everything said about the economic situation should not change our conviction and commitment to work towards achieving the financial and economic rescue plan, in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund”, stressing the necessity of implementation of measures taken to reduce public spending, and thus reducing deficits.

President Aoun also called for addressing the economic and social conditions and speeding up the implementation of taken decisions, as well as the reforms demanded by the international community which would tackle economic and financial conditions that Lebanon currently suffers from.

For his part, Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, affirmed that he would continue to work despite all difficulties. “We have an encouraging atmosphere from our brothers in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. Our negotiations with the IMF are continuous. I believe that there is a positive change that is taking place on some external stances from our Government” PM Diab stated.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Government is concerned with dealing with problems, but the supervisory, security and judicial bodies must keep pace with this work momentum, revealing the existence of reports to “Block the Government from within the administration”. PM Diab also noted that “There are those who make extensive contacts and strenuous efforts to persuade Arab countries which have a desire to help Lebanon, not to provide any assistance. What we have heard from our brothers in Arab countries about contacts by some Lebanese politicians is really shameful”.

Stances of the President, and Prime Minister, came at the beginning of a Cabinet session held today at 11:00am, in Baabda Palace. The Cabinet took a series of decisions, most notably the delay in deciding the resignation of General Director of the Finance Ministry, Mr. Alain Biffany, and the initial approval of the displaced Syrians paper, in addition to requesting the Supreme Consultative Authority at the Justice Ministry to express its opinion on the permission to resume investment of quarries of existing and operating dust companies in Lebanon. The Cabinet also decided to approve the appointment of the successful teams in the match that was held to adapt the sentries in favor of customs officer.

Cabinet Statement:

After the session ended, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad read the following statement:

“The Council of Ministers held a session this afternoon in the Baabda Palace, headed by His Excellency President Michel Aoun, and attended by the Prime Minister and ministers.

At the beginning of the session, the President pointed out that there are basic items on the agenda that must be studied and approved, pointing to the increased “Corona” virus spread during the past days, which requires a review of the measures that have been taken and expedited implementation to besiege the pandemic and prevent its spread on a large scale, stressing the necessity to adhere to preventive measures and procedures.

His Excellency also called on the necessity to address economic and social conditions and accelerate the implementation of the decisions taken in implementation, as well as the reforms demanded by the international community which would address the economic and financial conditions that Lebanon is currently suffering from. Then, His Excellency said that everything said about the economic situation should not change our conviction and commitment to work for achieving the financial and economic rescue plan, in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, stressing the implementation of the measures taken to reduce public spending and thus reducing the deficit.

Then, PM Diab spoke:

“Challenges in front of our country, the difficulties accumulate, the obstacles increase, and the political investment turns into a profession of falsifying and obliterating facts.

We all bear this, and more, but unfortunately, some have gone too far with this behavior, and the data in our hands confirms that those who committed sins, major sins, in the country are determined to destroy the last stone in it. When these people try to block any aid to Lebanon, what are they doing?

You know that contacts with our brothers in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, and with our friends in the world, are witnessing positive and encouraging development in helping Lebanon. We dig in the rock so we can alleviate the size of the country’s crisis. On the other hand, there are some who still insist on increasing Lebanese suffering. How can anyone imagine that someone with a minimum level of national affiliation is making extensive contacts and strenuous efforts to persuade Arab countries that have a desire to help Lebanon, not to offer any help ?!

Is it possible that there is a Lebanese thinking like this ?! Is it conceivable that there is a political official who has a national conscience, and is trying to prevent aid to Lebanon under these circumstances!? Is it conceivable that there is a partisan official concerned to block any aid to Lebanon? This is defective, and closer to national treason. What we heard from our brothers in the Arab countries about the contacts from some Lebanese politicians, is indeed shameful.

I could not imagine that there is a Lebanese who could think of conspiring against his country and his people to increase their suffering, for the sake of his political calculations.

Reports of attempts to disrupt Government action from inside are simple compared to what they are doing abroad.

We have reports of a plan to block the Government from within the administration. I was under so much pressure to change the “Tools”, on the understanding that we could not work with others’ “Tools”. I insist that these are the state’s “Tools” and not “Tools” of political forces or others, although I implicitly know what is going on from the fabricated obstacles: in Dollars, high prices, electricity, waste, diesel, gasoline, turbine and other files. We work with a national background, not with personal or political backgrounds. That is why I held onto the same “Tools”. However, these “Tools” have become very exposed.

In any case, we are continuing our work, despite difficulties. We have an encouraging atmosphere for our brothers in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. Our negotiations with the IMF are continuous. And I think there is a positive change that is taking place on some external stances of the Government. As for the IMF, the situation has been resolved clearly. They were accusing the Government of not submitting the Capitol Control project. We had discussed the project for a month, upon the proposal of the Finance Minister, before it was withdrawn. Then the Parliament put forward a law proposal, and it was also discussed and reached no result.

Today the IMF clearly indicates that this is one of the basics and asserts that the government figures are the correct ones, so why do we continue to waste time?

At this time, we must continue to address the acute crises in the country.

No trader has been arrested or prosecuted even though prices are increasing and unchecked. Diesel dealers control the market and sell diesel on the black market. Politics traders play with the Dollar rate. Protest movements by companies, contractors, and sectors, some of which are suspicious of timing targets, and which carry either political dimensions or blackmailing the state.

The Government is concerned with tackling these problems, but the supervisory, security and judicial organizations must keep pace with this work. Performance activation, and practical solutions are required.

One last point. As I said more than a month ago, we expect a second wave of the Corona Virus during July if protection and prevention measures are not adhered to. It is clear that this wave will be higher and more dangerous than the previous one. Therefore, we have to return to strict procedures, because we do not want to close the country again. The economic situation cannot bear such a decision. The alternative is topical isolation and strict measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic. We are trying to take advantage of the summer season and open the airport. On the other hand, we do not want to underestimate the force of this virus.

After that, the Cabinet presented the items on the agenda and took the following decisions:

1- Pending the decision in resignation of the Director General of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Alain Biffany.

2- Initial approval of the paper on the displaced Syrians, provided that the Ministerial Committee formed in accordance with Resolution No. 1 of 28/20/2020 and its annexes (the Follow-up Committee for the Return of Syrian Displaced Persons to their country in Safety and Dignity), follow up on its provisions in order to put it into practice and present the result to Council of Ministers.

3- The Environment Minister presented some inconsistencies in the approach to the legal framework that allows soil companies to use their quarries to extract raw materials for production, and asked the Cabinet to consult the supreme advisory body in the Ministry of Justice in this regard, in order to build on its requirements.

For their part, both the Industry and Economy Ministers asked that provisional companies be permitted to work in their quarries due to the exceptional circumstances the country is going through.

First – In support of Article 13 of Legislative Decree No. 150/1983 (Organizing the Ministry of Justice), requesting the Supreme Consultative Body to express an opinion on the issues raised by the Ministry of Environment related to the following topics:

  • Is it permissible to allow the resumption of the investment of quarries of existing and operating dust companies? Or does it require resorting to a qualifying investment as proposed in the draft decree approved by the Council of Ministers in accordance with Resolution No. 1 of 9/17/2019? Or is it sufficient to qualify only as stated in Decree 8803/2002 and its amendments (that is, without qualification including any investment)?
  • What is the legal justification for authorizing investment or qualifying investment or qualification in the quarries of existing and operating companies? Is it possible for this legal text to be fragmented, that is, to note the issue of quarries of earthen companies and no other quarries?
  • So who is the party that is currently intending to decide on this?

Provided that two legal men are appointed as required by Article 13 mentioned by the Council of Ministers at the next session of the government.

Second: Permitting the dust companies, exceptionally and for a trial period, to implement the site rehabilitation project as required by the laws and regulations in effect and submitted by them to the Ministry of Environment, and for a maximum period of three months from the date of the use of their equipment to carry out the rehabilitation process referred to above within the framework of strict participatory control carried out by Follow-up Committees chaired by a representative of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the membership of representatives from: the Presidency of the Republic, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Union of Municipalities concerned, every municipality in which the company or quarry is located within its scope, the operating dust companies, Higher education bodies and two non-profit organizations in civil society.

Third: The committees referred to above will start their work within a maximum period of five days from the date of this decision to determine the qualification sites and the conditions related to this work, after which the companies will resume their activities in the trial period to implement the site rehabilitation project according to the conditions set by the committees Exceptionally, it is awaiting the opinion of the Supreme Consultative Committee referred to in the first item.

Fourth: The committee mentioned in the second item shall report to the Prime Minister periodically and every 15 days to verify companies’ compliance with the exceptional conditions set by the participatory oversight committees.

Fifth: The foregoing mentioned does not in any way create any acquired right for the operating and existing companies and is not considered a settlement of its current status.

4- Approving bills related to correcting laws related to cutting off the general budget account and the attached budgets from the year 1997 to 2003 implicitly, and draft decrees referring them to the House of Representatives.

5- Approving a draft law related to cutting the general budget account and attached budgets for the year 2018 and a draft decree referring it to the Parliament.

6- The Cabinet decided to approve the appointment of the successful teams in the match that took place to adapt the sentries in favor of the customs officer, according to the order of their success in the match, and in a manner that takes into account the requirements of national reconciliation and coexistence.

7- Mandating the Minister of Administrative Development to prepare a file on illegal employment, and submit a detailed report in this regard to the Council of Ministers within a maximum period of one month from its date.

Questions & Answers:

Then a dialogue took place between Minister Abdel Samad and journalists. She was asked about the political parties that PM Diab talked about and that are working against the interest of Lebanon and about the Arab brothers who told him in light of the perpetual ignorance of the subject. “I have appointed them, and the decision to announce the names is up to the Prime Minister and it is not my authority to disclose them” Abdel Samad said.

Asked about the reservation of some ministers about the item related to the appointment of customs officers, she replied that “This issue is controversial and we stress on the right of these people to do the job, especially after the delay that has occurred in their appointment since 2015. Then, the decision was issued based on Article 95 of the Constitution, which stipulates the appointment in consideration of competence and merit, taking into account the requirements of national reconciliation and coexistence stipulated in the introduction to the constitution”.

Question: “Is it reasonable for the Lebanese people to believe that a party official is pushing any Arab country to refrain from assisting Lebanon and from PM Diab’s talk about the authorities that prevent the government from carrying out its work?

Answer: “PM Diab spoke about his attempts to block these projects, and he did not say that the decisions were changed in the light of specific interventions. Of course, things were set in perspective and we are promised positive news”.

Asked about not holding the people, which the Prime Minister spoke about, responsible, the Information Minister said: “God willing, it is assumed that all the relevant authorities and agencies should move within the relevant framework in addition to the judicial bodies, or that the matter may be limited to a political answer.

Regarding postponing the decision on the resignation of the Director General of Finance and the anatomical audit, she clarified that the issue of Biffany’s resignation was controversial, and the Cabinet decided to wait until it was decided that there was harm to the administration, so that if it was done, the matter might hinder negotiations and management in light of the current crisis. “He insisted on resigning, and the issue was controversial between acceptance and lack thereof, but what is certain is that there is a determination by him to accept the resignation” Abdel Samad added.

On accusing the government of not defending its plan, she replied: “Biffany suggested that he would have wished the Government to defend his positions more in the hope that these matters would be clarified later”.

“The government was in the process of discussing the plan with the concerned authorities and is the negotiating body, i.e. the International Monetary Fund, so all the arguments, proofs and evidence were directed to it, and the greatest evidence for this is the Fund’s approval of the Government figures as a result of its conviction of these numbers. Certainly, there were some media appearances to address the public with this plan, but the main objective was to go to the negotiating body to try to negotiate. The Government has achieved its goals in the hope that this message will reach abroad” Minister Abdel Samad continued.

Regarding her position towards the resignation, she replied: “There was insistence from the general manager and it is not permissible for a person to force resignation, and he gave considerations that I was convinced of, especially since we were, sharing the same administration and the same circumstances. In light of certain facts, I considered that he had the right to request the resignation, but I hoped that he would continue negotiations because accepting negotiations with the IMF was a fundamental decision, as well as accepting the fund for the plan. Lebanon’s interest requires that we continue to negotiate with the people who contributed to the plan”.

As for the topic of criminal scrutiny, the Information Minister said: “We are all insisting on it, and there was a proposal to include the institutions that are wasted, such as the Electricity Authority of Lebanon in the absence of financial data for a while, because its expenditures constitute two billion Dollars a year and cost 47 billion, or 40 percent of the public debt. And there were some suggestions for that. As for Kroll, we have already taken a decision, but after the ministers opposed it and FTI, the Finance Minister today presented six other companies whose files and costs are studied and we are supposed to discuss them in the next Tuesday session, and there is insistence that the decision be fast and effective”.

Finally, regarding Lebanon TV appointments, she stated: “The second screening stage is over and the issue is currently in the custody of the Civil Service Council. I have no result now, and I am supposed to report it between today and tomorrow, in which the names are still not revealed at interviews. And I confirm, from this platform, to continue to work with the mechanism because it is the base, and consider it objective and transparent. In my discretionary powers, I saw that I was going into an objective, transparent and continuous way in this matter until the last, and, God willing, there will be no battle because everyone agrees to deliver the most qualified and worthy”.

 

Source: National News Agency

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