Lebanon auditing office in a surprise move at the meeting yesterday of the parliamentary finance and budget committee released a report that revealed in details and figures the waste of public money in all administrations. The report with its revelation of unjustified allocations in 1998 fiscal budget was the major event. The report supported the idea saying the supervisory boards should be strengthened and given larger role and should not be under any political patronage so that it can fight corruption and play major role in the administrative reform.
The auditing office's report revealed that there were allocations in the fiscal budget 1997 that were shown for the first time and were unjustified and large. The office report said each minister was given an annual allocation of L.L80mn to his advisers, recalled that the amount is distributed on their close relatives and friends without any specific qualifications.
Israel defense minister Gen. Merdechai yesterday said Israel does not want to continue fighting in south Lebanon but staying inside the security zone there is to ensure security of its northern borders. He said "We do not want to stay neither to continue the fighting and do not have territorial claim in the Lebanese land but staying there is for vital security considerations."
Leader of the Israeli labor party Ehud Barak said the withdrawal from Lebanon can't be unilateral and can be done through an agreement that is not quite separate from the resumption of talks with the Syrians. He said a phased withdrawal from south that is agreed with the Lebanese government can take place after having a Syrian approval, so that Syria can extend guarantees and withdrawal can be phased. in order to see how much successful each phase and how much security can be restored.
The head of ICRC office in Lebanon Jacques Frazer, after a meeting with premier Hariri, said he conveyed a message from Mr. Hariri to the Israeli side on the swap. He said there are difficulties and problems facing the negotiations and it can be rapidly resolved or take months, but there is some progress and the negotiations are going on.
Commander of the SLA Antoine Lahd in a radio interview affirmed he won't seek asylum in Israel in case of an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Lahd said he won't leave the security zone and take asylum in Israel. He said he is protecting Lebanon and not north Israel. He said the fate of his militias is a secondary issue and that solutions were found to other Lebanese militias following the end of war in Lebanon.
-MP Mohammad Baydoun who is member of the house speaker parliamentary bloc said the parliament will not give up its role to supervise and account the government. He said the finance committee is preparing the atmosphere for the declaration of war against financial and administrative corruption.
-MP Najah Wakim urged the parliament to drop down the government proposed budget figures for 1998 if they can't challenge it at the constitutional council. Wakim said the finance minister has shelved the added value tax on Solidere's real estates.
-Task Force delegation under George Koudi is due to arrive tomorrow to Beirut to meet Lebanese officials and discuss further cooperation between Lebanon and US after lifting the ban.
-Three football matches took place Oct. 9 in the 32nd round of Lebanon's 26th Cup. Bourj overcame Mebarra 6-5. The Racing overcame Irshad 1-0. Ahli-Saida overcame Harakat Shabab 3-2.
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