NNA - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, stressed the need to proceed with the focused financial auditing, given its importance, especially as one of the main factors for studying the financial and monetary conditions of the Central Bank of Lebanon, in addition to its importance in the ongoing negotiations with the IMF.
For his part, Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Diab confirmed that the government is continuing its work and preparations which have started to fruit with results.
He said: “The Lebanese will gradually see a positive change. The food basket support plan that will be announced today is the cornerstone of addressing the crisis of high prices, Its results should be rapid, the follow-up should be accurate and around the clock, not to let it fail, and to prevent merchants from distortion.”
He thanked Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi for his support and care for Lebanon, which will become "our bet on the will of the Lebanese people, the success of the government's plan, and the support of brothers from Arab countries who refused to abandon Lebanon and are eager to contribute to its rescue, in addition to countries friendly to Lebanon that will not give up on this country, and have promised great contributions to save Lebanon.“
The stands of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister came at the beginning of the cabinet session, which convened at 11:00 am before today in the Baabda Palace, in the presence of PM Diab and the ministers. It was preceded by a retreat between President Aoun and the Prime Minister.
After the session ended, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad read the following statement:
The Council of Ministers held its weekly session in the Baabda Palace chaired by His Excellency the President of the Republic and the presence of the Prime Minister and ministers. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates was absent on a mission abroad.
At the beginning of the session, the President of the Republic talked about the forensic financial auditing, especially as the main factors for the financial and monetary conditions and the work of the Central Bank of Lebanon, in addition to its importance in the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to find appropriate solutions and get out of The financial crisis that Lebanon is currently going through.
The President of the Republic allows for forensic financial auditing that differs from accounting auditing, which is more transparent and accurate.
Then PM Diab spoke saying:
“Despite the black smoke that some insist on spreading in the country to cut roads, pollute everything, poison the lungs of people and try to poison their thoughts, hope still exists to get out of the suffocating crisis. It must emerge and reveal black and white.
We avoid responding to all lies, and to all the abuses that dark hatred engages in a colorless image of people who are exposed. We are continuing in our work, which began to give results, on more than one level .
Therefore, the Lebanese will gradually see a positive change of course. The food basket support plan that will be announced today is the cornerstone of tackling the price crisis, whose results can be rapid, with round-the-clock follow-up, to not fail, and curb the current traders from distorting their goal. No matter how strong the pressures are, we want to do our job and we will not give up, we will not weaken, and we will not be disturbed.
We continue our work to protect the Lebanese from the repercussions of the collapse. We still grasp the rubble, but we also tackle problems. We are doomed to optimism, and the Lebanese people have never surrendered to despair. The Lebanese people are known to love life, and they are stronger than all challenges. We went through many difficult circumstances. but we triumphed over them, and today we will win this big challenge, and we will overcome the ordeal standing back on our feet and be stronger than before.
Our bet is on the will of the Lebanese people, on the success of the government's plan, and on the support of brothers from Arab countries who refused to abandon Lebanon and are eager to contribute to its rescue. The beginning was from brotherly Iraq, which we received a ministerial delegation during the past week, commissioned by the Prime Minister, Brother Mustafa Al-Kazemi. I thank the great state of President Al-Kazemi, who has shown great love for Lebanon and the Lebanese people. There will be a quick follow-up with the brothers in Iraq to reach the required results as soon as possible.
Also, there are sister Arab countries that have expressed their willingness to help Lebanon. There are countries friendly to Lebanon that will not give up on this country, and they promised great contributions to help save Lebanon.
I can say today that there is a glimmer of hope that expands, and I believe that within weeks the Lebanese will see the results of the effort that we did during the past period. "
The cabinet studied the subjects on its agenda, took appropriate decisions, and highlighted them:
- Appointing the members of the Board of Directors of the Lebanese Electricity Corporation, including: Tariq Abdullah, Hussein Salloum, Samer Salim, Karim Saba, Habib Sorour, and Shadi Kreidi.
-Approval of a draft decree aimed at canceling the official exams for the intermediate certificate in the year 2020, and conducting a special course for the official exams for the high school diploma in its four branches, and the intermediate certificate.
- Approval of a draft decree aimed at canceling the official exams for "supplementary professional" certificates, "preparatory technical qualifications", and "professional secondary" (dual system) for the year 2020, and official exams to enter the first year of the technical baccalaureate diploma.
- Approval of an accelerated draft law that includes exceptional provisions related to the General Secondary Certificate, with its four branches, for the year 2020.
-Approval of an accelerated draft law related to the cancellation of the official exams for the technical baccalaureate diploma in the year 2020.
The Cabinet listened to a presentation by the Ministers of Energy, Water, Finance, Economy and Trade to propose and adresss the imbalance between the demand and supply of oil products to the internal markets.
The Council of Ministers took note of the proposals of the Ministry of Economy and Trade on the subject of the price and weight of the bread package.
The Minister of Economy and Trade also presented cement prices in the Lebanese market. The Minister of Industry also presented the current production crisis because of the depletion of the raw materials used in the quarries of the existing soil companies that have been inactive for more than 6 months. For his part, the Minister of Environment presented the problems posed, as well as the progress made through meetings to present the crisis of soil and quarries in government buildings, especially the meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
After deliberating and reviewing the economic and social conditions that were greatly aggravated by the Corona pandemic and general mobilization,
The Council decided to approve, on an exceptional and temporary basis, to allow the existing soil companies (National Earth Company SAL, Holcim SAL and Siblin Company) to resume the conditional work on two conditions: to set the price of a ton of soil at $65 based on the exchange rate according to the circular issued by the Central Bank of Lebanon No. 151. and setting a legal framework that would correct the existing environmental imbalance and preserve the health of the surrounding communities, which will be discussed in the next cabinet session of scheduled for next Thursday, provided that the aforementioned companies do not start their work before approving the framework that is referred to.
The Cabinet also decided to:
- Postpone the appointment of judicial inspectors to the next session, for further deliberation.
- Postponing the decision on the resignation of finance ministry director general, Mr. Alain Bifani.
It was also decided to complete the forensic audit file, and the technical details, after obtaining the reports of the security services to see if the companies have any link to Israel.
Minister Abdel Samad answered the journalists questions:
Q- What is the reason for the delay in obtaining the security report on the company KROLL and the reason for insisting on this company?
A- What was presented today is not only the company KROLL , after the Minister of Finance reported its dealings with Israel, another company FTI, also might have dealings with Israel. On the impact of this and as a result of everyone's affirmation, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the ministers, insisted on the necessity a forensic audit, everyone decided that the issue be discussed on Thursday after obtaining the report of the security services to verify the integrity of and the safety of dealing with these companies.
Q- the issue of the dollar's rise and the lack of procedures and decisions until the moment to limit its rise?
A- It was placed on the agenda, including trading in the monetary and financial situation. Indeed, this was discussed within the framework of the measures that the relevant ministries will handle, i.e. money and the economy. Today, we are waiting for the Ministry of Economy to announce the plan to support the food basket and other issues. We were not in the context of making decisions on these issues, but to see the actions taken by the ministries concerned.
Q- the government's failure to decide on many essential issues and on the resignation of the Director General of Finance, Alan Bifani?
A- Work is taking place at all levels, whether in the ministries of industry, agriculture or economics or the Ministry of Finance and other ministries, and even a ministry Tourism within the framework of the research on the conditions and role of tourism institutions, as well as the Ministry of Information in the media part, after it suffered many losses. These matters and remedies are measures that are taken in every ministry over a hot flame, but these measures are decisions approved in this way. This does not mean that it was neither researched nor worked upon. Work is done openly and also in closed meetings, and the result will appear over time. because today we are facing a collapsed economy that cannot rise up overnight. The pain is great, and so is the wound. These are not treated by a decision or within a day or two, but rather by all efforts.
As for the resignation of the Director General of Finance, his absence at this time as Lebanon is in the midst of negotiations with the IMF may have an impact on these negotiations. Therefore, the Cabinet decided to postpone the search for who will replace him and whether or not it will accept his resignation. Of course, this issue requires search because what concerns us is that there is no vacuum, or that the matter is a reason for losing any negotiation.
Q- the appointments of the Electricity Board of Lebanon, and what was said
A- We confirm and we hope that things will not take political dimensions. For me, the priority is to the mechanism without political quotas, and selecting the most efficient and qualified. This also applies to my colleagues in the government, and to the PM. Today we discussed the appointment of members of a board of directors and not a board of directors, and the appointment mechanism in the Civil Service Council that was recommended to the Council of Ministers in the year 2010, It does not apply to appointments today, because there is not among the appointees a chairman or general manager, and also the law that was approved two weeks ago and signed by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Newspaper, does not apply here, because the appointment of a chairman and general manager is observed. It is to be done in an objective way, after the Minister of Energy presented the mechanism that he adopted, which is an objective mechanism that achieves two constitutional principles, justice and equality by choosing the most competent. And after we looked at the entire report, it became clear to us that the most efficient, which is the first in every sect, was chosen, because we have to take into account the sectarian balance according to Article 95 of the Constitution, we agreed on those people who were the first and were chosen on these basis.
There are two sects, the first of which was not chosen, and we asked the Minister of Energy about that. It turned out that the first of one of the sects does not exist in Lebanon permanently, and this is a condition of the conditions of appointment, so he was excluded, but for the Druze sect, the name was placed outside the mechanism . This was done for a simple reason, according to the Minister of Energy’s justification, which is because there were only two Druze candidates who reached the final stage, and it is better to have 3 names to be presented to the Cabinet. I would like to clarify that there are 4 conditions that must be met for selection, namely the presence in Lebanon, non-conflict of interests, competence, and the requirements of national reconciliation. Everyone fulfills these conditions. It was our insistence that the mechanism put in place by the Minister of Energy whose transparency proved to be what made us stick to these names.
251 people applied, were screened, 63 people were chosen. They met the committee that conducted the screening process. On the basis of these meetings, the names were put forward in the Cabinet. One was excluded because he was not in Lebanon, and another because he was a former chairman.
Q- what about aid from Arab countries, and about the problems that have arisen in Iraq about the visit of the Iraqi delegation to Lebanon?
A- I have confirmed that it is better to announce these countries after completing negotiations and reaching a certain consensus. So far, there is nothing official to announce. As for Iraq, there have been several meetings with the Iraqi delegation on various levels, and things are going within in without any change.
Q- would the aid reach Lebanon?
A- our economic goal is to support Lebanon internally and externally.
Q- lWhat about European Union’s decision to prevent the Lebanese from traveling because of the Corona epidemic, are there contacts to resolve this issue?
A- this matter is u der research and its causes are known.
Q- why a general manager of the EDL was not appointed?
A- this appointment was not raised in this session, even if it was asked about. This appointment is subject to the appointment mechanism for the first category, and we await the Minister's decision in this regard.--Presidency Press Office