The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received today at the Grand Serail the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, in the presence of former Minister Ghattas Khoury. Discussions focused on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.
After the meeting, Kubis said: I am very grateful that His Excellency the Prime Minister is giving me his time frequently and regularly. This is very important as well, due to my forthcoming meeting with the Security Council of the United Nations next week in New York. I wanted to check some messages and the most important message that I received from the Prime Minister, but also I confirm on my side, is how to support the government, how to support the Prime Minister, other ministries and of course political forces in making sure that the reform program of the government proceeds forward, that there is no disruption, no diversion from the objectives of reform, the delivery of services to the people, improving the environment, including as regards fighting corruption, by any other topics that might create disruption. So, it is very important to make sure that the government can proceed with reforms.
One of the most important steps is to make sure that the budget of the country is adopted as soon as possible but also that the budget is a reformed one that would address important issues such as the gradual reduction of fiscal deficit. And here I pledged the support of the international community. I will discuss before my departure with the critical international partners of the country how to provide more support for the reform program.
There were other topics on the agenda. I also acknowledged the very strong performance of the country and the Prime Minister at the Brussels III conference with messages that confirm an urgent need to ensure a safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to the international humanitarian norms, but as soon as possible, under the full respect of these norms, and to treat this as a humanitarian issue. And here again expectation that the UN and the humanitarian community will continue in facilitating these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon. Presence of refugees is a heavy burden and there is a need to support also communities that are temporarily still hosting them.
There were many other topics, about my discussions with visiting delegations, including Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix who was here to inspect UNIFIL operations and we discussed all the measures that are important to keep calm and to make sure that occasional problems are not creating any problems of a bigger nature.
All in all, it was a very good and very substantive meeting and I am grateful to His Excellency that he gave me his time.
Meeting to support Lebanese industry
Hariri chaired earlier a meeting about the Lebanese industry, in the presence of the Minister of Industry Wael Abu Faour, and representatives of the Lebanese Army, the Internal Security Forces, General Security, State Security, the Ministry of Economy, the Audit Bureau, the Public Tenders authority, the Higher Relief Committee, Water Utilities in the Governorates, the Council for Development and Reconstruction and the Council for the South.
After the meeting, Abu Faour said: As part of the Lebanese government's policy of supporting the Lebanese industry, and at the request of Prime Minister Hariri, this meeting was held in the presence of the Lebanese administrations that hold public tenders or public procurement.
He added: There are previous circulars and decrees issued that require the public administrations in Lebanon to give preference to the local industry with a margin of price difference of 10% to 15%. But unfortunately this was not implemented in the previous years due the general climate that didn't give the Lebanese industry the place it deserves in the mind of the Lebanese decision-makers. Prime Minister Hariri stressed the need to support the Lebanese industry through these measures to give priority to the Lebanese industries. This gives indirect support to the Lebanese industry and creates job opportunities that contribute to economic and social development.
He continued: At the end of the meeting it was agreed, first by Premier Hariri, to support the Lebanese industry and to take all the necessary measures by the Lebanese administration to implement these decrees and circulars, by giving priority to the Lebanese industry in all tenders, deals and procurements that take place.
It was also agreed to mention the priority to the Lebanese industry in the books of conditions, and all the institutions present in the meeting declared that they will abide by this. Thus, this becomes binding on all purchases.
Abu Faour added: Premier Hariri also informed the Administration of Public Tenders represented by its director Jean Ellieh that he has the authority to refuse any book of conditions that doesn't give preference to the Lebanese industry.
He concluded by thanking Premier Hariri for his efforts, time and interest in this issue.
Asked about exporting Lebanese products through land crossings through the Syrian territories, he said: There is a problem with Syria. I think it is a political blackmail to all the Lebanese. The Syrian regime does not want to allow Lebanon to export except through political conditions and a political agenda that starts with recognizing the regime. I proposed that the cabinet approve an amount of money to support the industrial exports similar to the amount approved for the agricultural exports. The other problem is the high cost, which is also part of the blackmail
Hariri later received the Minister of Tourism Avedis Guidanian.
Source: National News Agency