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Tuesday,17 May, 2022
The Cabinet convened in the first session after New Year.
The Cabinet convened in the first session after New Year.
24/01/2022

The Cabinet approved the 2021 draft budget law, and successive sessions will be held to approve the 2022 draft budget.

 

The Cabinet approved raising transportation allowance for the public and private sectors and military and security apparatuses and appointed the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

 

President Aoun: “Cabinet sessions’ interruption negatively affected the regularity o work of the executive authority and increased the accumulation of negative repercussions on the situation in the country”.

 

President Aoun asserted that it is not possible to issue exceptional approvals if the government has not resigned.

 

The President asked to start studying living issues which concern citizens before other issues.

 

PM Mikati: “I hope that our sessions will be fruitful and that we cooperate in them in a spirit of responsibility, away from any disagreements”.

 

The Cabinet convened today in a session chaired by President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and attended by Prime Minister, Najib Mikati and ministers.

The Council of Ministers approved the 2021 draft budget law and decided to hold consecutive daily sessions to approve the 2022 draft budget law, in preparation to referring the budget to the Parliament.

In addition, the Cabinet approved a series of social offerings and an increase in transportation allowance for the public and private sectors, and military and security agencies, fulfilling promises to workers in the formal educational sector.

President Michel Aoun considered that “Cabinet-session interruption negatively affected the regularity of the work of the executive authority and increased the accumulation of negative repercussions of the general situation”.

The President also asserted that “When the government is not resigned, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister cannot issue exceptional approvals”, asking to start studying livelihood issues which concern citizens, provided that agenda topics will be studied later.

For his part, Prime Minister Mikati indicated that “The remaining time before parliamentary elections has become very stressful. We will try as much as possible to accomplish basic issues which are first related to the daily life of citizens, electricity, general budget and gas and oil”.

The Prime Minister also revealed that “Upcoming sessions will be full of issues and basic files for all ministries and departments”.

The session convened at 9:00am in the presence of minister, except Justice Minister, Henry Khoury, who is on an official mission to Iraq. The Cabinet session was preceded by a meeting between the President and Prime Minister, during which agenda topics were deliberated , in addition to life and livelihood issues.

Minister Halaby:

After the meeting, Information Minister, Abbas Halaby, read the Cabinet statement:

“The Cabinet convened today in a session headed by President of the republic, General Michel Aoun, and attended by Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, in addition to ministers except the Justice Minister who is on an official visit to Iraq.

At the beginning, the President welcomed the ministers after a long interruption during which the work of the executive authority, represented by the Council of Ministers, froze “Although ministers continued their work individually or through ministerial committees”.

The President indicated that “Cabinet-session interruption negatively affected the regularity of the work of the executive authority and increased the accumulation of negative repercussions of the general situation”.

“I have previously emphasized respect for the principle of separation of authorities in Lebanon between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities. What had happened in the past months wasn’t in accordance with this constitutional rule, which was reflected in many of the essential life demands of citizens. In this regard, I would like to assert that when the government is not resigned, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister cannot issue exceptional approvals” the President added.

Moreover, the President asked to start studying livelihood issues which concern citizens, provided that agenda topics will be studied later.

Then, the Prime Minister said “I am pleased to resume Cabinet sessions after a break, and that the “Together to rescue” government resumes duties seriously and effectively since present and imminent challenges no longer allow any delay, financially, socially and economically”.

“The remaining time before parliamentary elections has become very stressful. We will try as much as possible to accomplish basic issues which are first related to the daily life of citizens, electricity, general budget and gas and oil” PM Mikati continued.

“My hope is that our sessions will be fruitful and that we cooperate in a spirit of responsibility away from differences. I also hope that we proceed from the fact that people no longer bear the contradictions and are bored with the differences and want productive work and cooperation among all to extricate themselves from crises and dangers” PM Mikati added.

“What I ask for is that the views of ministers carry the spirit of optimism through the media in approaching all files, despite their difficulty. I ask to avoid, as much as possible, differences which harm ministerial solidarity, and to maintain the confidentiality of deliberations, because any partial or false or out of context leakage will distance the discussion in the general budget and its figures from its correct scientific approach” the Prime Minister said.

“There are also several topics on the agenda which are essential for running state affairs and giving the rights of people and employees. Upcoming sessions will be full of issues and basic files for all ministries and departments. We are also in the process of preparing for a special Cabinet session to approve the executive decrees of the issued laws. Through constructive cooperation, we can achieve a lot. This is at the heart of our work and direction” PM Mikati concluded.

Afterwards, the Council of Ministers began studying agenda topics, and decided to approve:

- A draft decree aimed at giving temporary social assistance to workers in the public sector (including government hospitals and the Lebanese University), municipalities, the Federation of Municipalities and anyone who receives a salary, wage, or allowances from public funds, in addition to retirees who benefit from a retirement pension, and to give the Ministry of Finance a treasury advance for this aim.

- A draft decree aiming to amend the value of the daily transportation allowance for the private sector in the amount of 65,000 Lebanese Liras for each day of actual attendance, plus an education grant.

- A draft decree aiming to amend the value of the temporary transportation compensation for public sector workers to reach 64,000 Lebanese Liras for each day of actual attendance.

- A draft decree aiming to give a monthly lump sum transfer compensation of one million and 200 thousand Liras to the military in the army, internal security forces, public security, state security, customs officers and parliament police.

-Extension of work in the temporary staff and the effect of decisions and contracts of temporary employees and contractors of various names.

-Adjusting the teaching wages for those contracting to teach in public schools and secondary schools, and vocational and technical education institutes.

- Appointing the National Anti-Corruption Commission according to the following: Judge Claude Karam as President, Lawyer Mr. Fawaz Kabbara as Vice President, Judge Therese Allawi and Messrs’ Ali Badran, Joe Maalouf and Kleib Kleib as members.

-Postponing the decision on the draft internal and financial regulations of the National Commission for Human Rights, including the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, in order to ensure the presence of Minister of Justice in the next session.

The Council of Ministers also approved all the items on its agenda.

After that, the Cabinet approved the draft general budget law for the year 2021, and a draft law aimed at authorizing the collection of imports as in the past and the disbursement of expenditures starting from the first of February 2022 until the issuance of the budget law for the year 2022, on the basis of the 12th rule.

As a result, the Council of Ministers began studying the draft general budget law for the current year. The Minister of Finance presented a detailed presentation on the foundations that were adopted, the positive reasons and the positive points of the project, provided that the Council, in successive daily sessions that will be held in the Grand Serail starting tomorrow, will thoroughly study the draft budget, preparing for referral to the Parliament.

 

Questions & Answers:

Question: Were you able to read the budget as a minister representing political forces, and do you agree with it?

Answer: “The Finance Minister presented the initial conception of how to draw up the draft budget, based on the existing situation and what the project would achieve if it was approved as it is. Today, we presented the vision of this project, provided that it follows that all ministers present their opinion on each separate item and paragraph. The Prime Minister confirms that the budget study will be item by item, paragraph by paragraph and article by article. Therefore, no matter how long it takes, the project will be approved as soon as possible, provided that the last session will be at Baabda Palace for final approval and referral to the Parliament”.

Question: Was the appointment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission easily approved?

Answer: “I would like to point out that the atmosphere of understanding in the session was at a very high level, dealing positively, and taking and responding constructively, and it was a special session for this large number of the agenda to pass through, but the pause will be on the issue of the budget”.

Question: Some described the budget as unfair and sterile, and that it meets the conditions of the IMF more than the needs of citizens?

Answer: “In my opinion, people rushed to give descriptions of this project. At the same time that the 1200-page was distributed, the budget began to be attacked. Everyone should calm down and allow the Cabinet to have its say. If the Council approved the budget, it will not find its way to implementation except through the Parliament”.

Question: When is the date of meeting with the IMF?

Answer: “At 4:00pm today, the first introductory session will be held. Lebanon has done what it should, through the draft budget, which, unlike what was corrected negatively, at least secures economic growth for this year and the next year”.

Question: Was the Kuwaiti demands-paper tackled?

Answer: “It was not discussed, but the Prime Minister reflected the positivity brought by the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, and the Cabinet expressed its satisfaction with what was presented by the President”.

Question: Who will respond to the paper?

Answer: “This is a matter related to the Prime Minister, and the concerned Minister, i.e. the Foreign Affairs Minister”.

Formal Education Sector Workers:

Minister Halaby, as Minister of Education, addressed the workers in the educational sector and said:

“The Cabinet approved the monthly social grant and decided to raise the compensation for daily attendance known as the transportation allowance, and also approved doubling the hourly wages for contractors.

We had previously provided them with a grant from donors of $90 per month linked to attendance, in addition to the funds that were transferred to public school funds. During the session, I offered the possibility of including contractors in formal and professional education in exchange for attendance and a social grant, and we gained the support of the Council of Ministers, and the Minister of Finance will study the matter to issue a decision in this regard or a new proposal to be presented to the Council.

Based on that, the Council of Ministers has done what it was supposed to, which means that the promises have been fulfilled despite the distress the country is experiencing at all levels. Therefore, I call on all professors, teachers, contractors, their assistants, mechanization workers, guards, and servants in schools and high schools, and official professionals, to return to schools starting tomorrow morning, and make efforts to compensate for the great loss incurred by the school year as a result of strikes, school closures and the loss of an entire semester.

I call on them to know that education is a sacred message upon which the dreams of generations, the policies of nations, and plans for change, development and advancement are built, so do not let anything hinder the completion of curricula after today, and preserve your safety and the safety of students, parents and society, through the application of the health protocol and global standards to protect against the epidemic.

We also presented issues related to the Lebanese University, and I requested that the Council of Ministers allocates, and very soon, a session to study the issue of appointing deans”.

Minister Statements After the Session:

Prior to their departure from the Presidential Palace after the session ended, some ministers had a chat with journalists.

Finance Minister, Youssef Khalil, announced in response to a question that the customs dollar would be calculated according to the price approved on the “Sayrafa” platform.

Energy Minister, Walid Fayyad, when asked about the date of signing the expected agreements for energy import, indicated that “Lebanon will sign next Wednesday two agreements: one with Jordan to supply energy and the other with Jordan and Syria to import energy through Syrian territories”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Abdullah Bou Habib, in response to a question about the date of the response to the Kuwaiti paper, stated that discussions will begin today, and that the response will be ready before next Saturday.​