The third and last day of discussions about the governmental statement started yesterday with deputy Assem Qanso who declared himself behind a free media but against disorganization. He stated that economic recession is paralyzing our plants, stores, trade and agriculture.
Deputy Nabil El-Bustani then said the current statement was similar to previous ones, pointing that the dislodged people issue needed to be dealt with in priority.
Deputy Anwar El-Khalil said the government statement was too general, and didn't include a specified plan . He described the statement as intentions, and not as a feasible program.
Then, deputy Mosbah El-Ahdab stated that all economic, social and environmental problems are linked together and should be handled, and gave the confidence to the cabinet.
Deputy Ghazi Zohayter, on the other hand, hoped the government economic plan would include an agricultural program. He called for a health security to tobacco farmers, as well as the carrying out of judgment taken by the State Council, concerning the employees of Regie du Liban.
Deputy Hussein Yatim raised the constitutional article 95, asking to form the National Body for separating politics from confessions.
Deputy Michel Faraoun asked for a permanent dialogue with labour unions, and to handle social problems according to a certain plan.
Deputy Mustafa Saad declared the statement was similar to previous ones, and wondered about the administrative reform.
Then deputy Tammam Salam said confidence can't be granted upon a statement which didn't separate powers, nor dealt radically with the media freedom issue. It would be given on governmental responsibilities, according to the following points:
1-Strengthening peace would be through the implementation of the Taef agreement articles, besides liberating the South and West Bekaa
2-The government strategy which ignored inspection and control bodies led to corruption within the administration.
3-The citizen contribution in state rebuilding would mostly occur by getting to have a part in the authority through municipal councils, by forming the National Council, headed by the president of the republic, with the president of the parliament and the prime minister as members, besides social and political persons, and also by announcing the elections law early, to give citizens and candidates the chance of taking part in these elections.
4-The freedom issue must be handled with regard to the audio-visual mass media matter. Salam declared being with the organization of information, but against giving authorizations only to some media.
He finally granted the confidence
Deputy Abd Errahman Abd Errahman stated people were suffering from inflation, noting that one third of the Lebanese people were on the line of poverty.
Deputy Estefan Eddwayhe enumerated the achievements of the Ministry of Social Affairs in the previous government, and insisted on implementing the balanced development.
Deputy Mohammed Kebbarah granted the confidence , asking the Cabinet to give the north region the importance it needed.
Deputy Bahia Al-Hariri said the country was having a political problem , not an economic one. She also criticized the words of opposition deputies, and gave the confidence.
Then deputy Boutros Harb delivered a speech that discussions were about the destiny of a nation, of a state and regime and about an almost desperate population who, having adopted the democratic parliamentary regime, was seeing agreements ignored, and public interests reversed. The regime itself was becoming a strange form of authority, where institutions would have the role circumstances allow them to play.
Furthermore, the Cabinet and the parliament have become part of a disformed regime, that has nothing to do with the parliamentary one. That is why the parliament couldn't judge the Cabinet, and henceforth, corruption spread and inspection bodies dwindled. Harb added that, in order to shut off the opposition, the government made the elections law to work in favour to some of its leaders, and issued the audio-visual media law. All these errors made Syria the tutor of Lebanon, and when the international equation changed, after the Gulf war, many of the Taef agreement articles (national consensus reconciliation, dialogue, the redeployment of Syrian forces) fitted no more. So let's take the lesson from the past, and never accept the violation of Lebanon sovereignty, independence or democratic regime.
Deputy Harb said that Lebanon and Syria should have special relations, within each country's sovereignty and independence; he however refused that Damascus became the Mecca of every person who had political ambitions. Now that the country is politically stable, the state authority accused the opposition of working for Israel, and that is too dangerous, for governing wouldn't be upright unless there is an active opposition.
Harb asked the state to facilitate the return of opposition leaders abroad, and wondered how could officials be honest when the media law turned into a mere distribution of these media by the high-ranking officials. The Cabinet has committed a crime against opposition media, a crime subject to illegal enrichment law.
Deputy Harb then declared the governmental statement didn't reflect the real intention of the government, for it couldn't keep on the reconstruction process, and provide credits to productive sectors, namely industry, agriculture and tourism, unless it increased taxes and dues, and the Lebanese people couldn't afford more taxes.
Harb noted that foreign labour force is competing against the Lebanese one, and that having a Ministry of Technical Education and another of High Education would increase the state expenditures. He also pointed that the confidence vote was nothing but a formality, and that he would not grant it to the government.
Then, deputy Ali El-Khalil asked why the Taef agreement principles were not transformed into laws, to help implement them, as well as carrying out the administrative discentralization.
Deputy Mohammed Yousef Baydoun reminded the Cabinet that, since the Israeli governmental policy with Nattanyaho has changed from peace, the previous strategies, based on reconstruction and development, must be reviewed. Concerning the statement, Baydoun criticized the establishing of an independent Ministry of Industry, and the governmental promises of administrative reform, but encouraged its plans to help close the issue of dislodged people return, and called for an objective handling of the mass-media issue, namely to assign to TDF (Telediffusion de France) the mission of specifying the number of T.V. channels and radio stations. Then, declaring his support to the motion related to non-authorized media, he said he would not grant the confidence.
Finally, president Hussein El-Husseini reaffirmed, during a speech, the necessity of liberating the South and West Bekaa, and wondered how could the administrative reform occur, while ignoring inspection bodies, and oppressing freedoms. Educational and fiscal reforms, adopted by the Taef agreement, were not mentioned by the statement. El-Husseini asked the Prime Minister to have a brave attitude and review things from the general point of view, for the hungry unemployed or humiliated citizen, who would see officials living in luxury, would one day rebel. He also said the governmental statement included no program, neither by the term for executing promises, nor by the way it was edited, namely when it talked about dislodged people.
Then, deputy El-Husseini declared this government had not a clear strategy, nor a plan of action that could be evaluated. It was avoiding truth, and hence, it couldn't be a cabinet of national consensus, and the people I represent were asking for actions, thus he didn't grant the confidence.
The Prime Minister, Mr Rafiq Al-Hariri, then answered the deputies, talking first about the Lebanese-Syrian relations, which were very good. Afterwards, he enumerated the achievements, stability, housing labour and hospitalization .He also talked about increasing the reserves of the Bank of Lebanon, the return of Lebanese emigrants and of the increase in the labour force. He declared the students number in public schools increased.
About the general debt, he said it reached 12 billion L.P., interests included, and about 800 million dollars were spent for the return of dislodged people.
About the Lebanese pound Al-Hariri mentioned its stability, and that deposits in the Bank of Lebanon reached 18 billion dollars.
Deputy Elie El-Ferzli, asked for the parliament confidence.
Then, after the vote, the cabinet obtained the confidence of 102 deputies, while 19 deputies didn't grant it, thus, president Berreh ended the session.
Another session was immediately open to discuss the decree concerning salaries of teachers, which was adopted with a retroactive effect, starting on June 1st 1996.
Deputy Zaher El-Khatib raised afterwards the motion about the audio-visual media, in order to discuss and adopt it. Al-Hariri answered that the media could still present application forms, or merge, as some have done. A closed meeting was then held between presidents Berreh and Al-Hariri, after which the former declared the motion was postponed .
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