The Council of Ministers held a meeting today at the Grand Serail. At the end of the meeting, Minister Wael Abu Faour read the following official information:
The Council of Ministers held today a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hariri in the absence of Ministers Violette Safadi, Jamal Jarrah, Hassan Lakkis, May Chidiac and AvidisKidanian.
Premier Hariri started by addressing the so-called deal of the century. He said: "The position of the Lebanese government is clear. We are against this project and there is consensus in Lebanon on rejecting it, expressed by all the components and institutions in Lebanon. Lebanon's position is based on the Arab League and Beirut Summit resolutions. Our Constitution is clear and forbids resettlement and emphasizes the right of return." Premier Hariri's stance was supported by all ministers.
Premier Hariri then asked all ministers to complete the preparation of all applicable decrees of the laws issued previously, stressing that he will follow up this subject weekly with the concerned ministers to complete them as soon as possible. He also pointed out that there are draft laws from Parliament that will be studied by the Council of Ministers. There are also a number of questions submitted by deputies to the government on various subjects, which should be answered.
Finally, Premier Hariri pointed out that the Council of Ministers will hold meetings dedicated to follow-up on the CEDRE decisions and the McKinsey Economic plan.
The Council of Ministers then proceeded to discuss the agenda. Most items were adopted, most importantly: A number of draft laws and the approval of a number of loans and grants, from China, the European Bank, the World Bank and Turkey. The Cabinet also approved a number of agreement and memorandums of understanding with several states including Armenia, the Russian Federation, Egypt, Serbia and Gabon.
We approved the request of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to allow students who studied in Syria or any other country, and Syrian students and from other nationalities, to take the 2019 official exams for the certificates issued by the Directorate General for Vocational and Technical Education even if they can't secure the required documents to accept their candidacy to these exams.
The new customs law was also discussed and it was agreed to approve it after being reviewed by the Minister of Finance within one month. The draft law on electronic transactions was also adopted and a decision was also taken to cancel the Investment Guarantee Authority, due to the lack of employees and because of the uselessness of the institution over the past years. An organizational decree concerning the mechanism for the application of Article 73 of Law 220 dated 29-05-2000 was also adopted. This law is known as the law of the rights of disabled. The decree allocates three percent of the public sector jobs to persons with special needs and this is an old demand from people with special needs.
Question: Why didn't any appointments take place?
Abu Faour: This was not on the agenda, and it was not among the items discussed.
Question: Is it because of a lack of consensus?
Abu Faour: I cannot say that, but what can be said from my position as minister is that until now, no proposal has been submitted to the Council of Ministers.
Question: Will the exceptional examinations session include the students who have not been able to take the brevet exams?
Abu Faour: We are talking about Syrian or non-Syrian students who were unable to obtain the documents required for their exams. They are being allowed to take the exams. For the students who did not apply to the first session, there is a proposal submitted by the Minister of Education to allow them to take the exams, but independently. This is completely different.
Question: Did you discuss the sit-ins of the retired military?
Abu Faour: They were discussed and there is a general feeling in the Council of Ministers that, in many cases, things go beyond the logic that must be adopted in some of the demands put forward. Some movements and statements also depart from the logic that must be respected by every right holder.
Question: Did you agree to follow up this file or deal with it in some way?
Abu Faour: No decision has been taken, but frankly, there is a general atmosphere in the cabinet that some, not all, demands should be more logical. Some steps, if not most, must be more law-abiding. The Lebanese citizen should not pay for some of the steps that have become disturbing.
Question: When will the Council of Ministers begin appointments, knowing that a consensus is needed?
Abu Faour: What happened yesterday in Parliament, with regard to the Constitutional Council, made it easier for the Lebanese government to approve the appointments related to the Constitutional Council, because yesterday there was a kind of compromise between the blocs.
Question: Was it a distribution of shares?
Abu Faour: We can call it a settlement, or, in a less nice way, a distribution of shares. But yes, the blocs agreed on a group of names that meet the demands of the parliamentary blocs.
Question: Will the same thing happen in the Council of Ministers?
Abu Faour: If logic is to adopt efficiency, and I call for a debate on the efficiency of those who were elected yesterday in Parliament. If there is a lack of efficiency, this is dangerous. But if they are competent people, chosen by the parliamentary blocs or the components of the Council of Ministers, this is historically how appointments take place and today too.
Question: Will you continue applying the quotas?
Abu Faour: I did not say quota, but I said taking into account the demands of some parliamentary blocs and components. In all cases, there is a lot of noise in the media and public opinion on the remaining appointments, but on the table of the Council of Ministers or in the stage preceding the Council of Ministers, further consultation is required before reaching a proposal of appointments.
Question: Are there any appointments on the agenda of the next session?
Abu Faour: The agenda is determined by the Prime Minister, and we are waiting for what he will send us.
Question: On the subject of the deal of the century, there was talk of 6 billion dollars allocated to Lebanon. Did you discuss this?
Abu Faour: Lebanon's position on the so-called deal of the century is not about the size of the funds or the size of the temptations. It is a principled position that starts with what the prime minister said in cabinet. He said the following: It is up to the Palestinian people to reject or approve and the Palestinian people rejected this whole matter unanimously. Therefore, no one can impose on the Palestinian people anything it does not want.
Second, the approach of funds and inducements is not accepted by the Lebanese state, and it is not likely to be part of the debate. Emphasizing the right of return, rejecting the resettlement and adhering to the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Quds as its capital, is a demand that has been agreed upon by all Arab countries. Lebanon is at the forefront of defending this right. And therefore the issue is not to be discussed in terms of money or temptations or what is said about billions that will not make any difference. It is clear from the course of events at the conference that was held that it is doomed to failure.
Source: National News Agency