News from Beirut October 4  1997 ...Search

Lebanon-Budget, Shield for Political Bickering

Lebanon 1998 fiscal budget squeezed and cut in order to maintain austerity has been endorsed in a "magic" 90 minute cabinet session". Leading daily said prime minister Rafic Hariri took the initiative and called on phone the house speaker Nabih Berri to wish him recovery of a reported illness and as if it was magic the looming crisis was over.

The past days political storms split the ruling society while the Lebanese citizens were extremely worry over their earnings, national currency rate and economy. However, after the cabinet session yesterday at Baabda Mr. Hariri took off to Paris to relax and spend a week-end.  Neutral ministers said the political atmosphere between the house speaker and prime minister cleared and the budget could be passed. Mr. Hariri woo the house speaker later in the day saying they can't be separated adding that they are both from south Lebanon and things can't reach a deadlock.

The cabinet session, third in a week time, took only 90 minutes to endorse the draft budget figures and to be approved with unanimous vote. President Elias Hrawi was persistent to finalize it yesterday evening in order to send it to parliament within the constitutional time limit. The final figures of the draft budget was unchanged. Prime minister Hariri said during the session there are two red lines , the first is that no ministry will be  allowed to go beyond the allocated figures and the second is to closely supervise spending and collection of the state revenues.

The budget deficit average was raised up by only 0.46 per cent to stand at 37.46 per cent.The allocations were fixed at LL. 7,375bn.

News Briefs

- President Elias Hrawi yesterday received a written letter from the UN former secretary general Boutros Boutros Ghali who asked Lebanon's support to his candidacy to the post of secretary general of the Francophone states' organization. Election of the secretary will take place in Hanoi-Vietnam mid Nov. Hrawi send two cables of congratulation to Syrian and Egyptian presidents in the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the October war.

- Prime minister Rafik Hariri left to Paris and Saudi Arabia in a two holiday visit to join his family. Before departure he received the ambassador of  Japan in Lebanon to discuss bilateral relations. Hariri also received leader of the Kataeb party who came to thank him extending condolences on the death of his brother.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz, who presided in Paris a conference of Lebanon's 18 ambassadors in Europe, said certain mechanism was adopted to maintain coordination and consultation between Lebanon diplomatic missions' heads. The conference centered on issues including the peace process and Mrs. Albright's diplomacy, the south Lebanon and Lebanese detainees, effects of cutting UNRWA budget on the refugees in Lebanon, the Lebanese European relations and the partnership agreements. Boueiz said the Israeli reiterations on withdrawal from south Lebanon should be on the table of negotiations or through credible channels such as the US official channel.

-The Israeli artillery fired cluster bombs on Touline village in Merjeuoun area damaging houses and the main roads. SLA said its posts at Tallouse and Qantara came under artillery attack from the resistance. A statue for the Lebanese army martyrs in Arabsalim was inaugurated at the village.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili yesterday said the "council of notables"will be held Sunday and there will be specific moves that will be announced on time. He said the ruling society are fighting now with economical weapons and new methods. He criticized SOLIDERE decision to sell non Lebanese its shares.

- Displaced minister Walid Jumblat refused a 1998 budget allocation of  L.L10bn to his ministry and said this amount is insufficient and needless. He proposed to give it up to other ministries. Prime minister Hariri who announced the cabinet session decisions said it is not enough. Asked if the new resources could be gasoline price increase, Hariri said "not necessarily".

-The military tribunal continued to trial Etiene Saqre (Abu Arz) and five others of the Cedars' Guards including a lawyer for charges of collaborating with Israel, making deals with Israelis and revealing information in its favor, all violates the law to boycott Israel.

-An Iraqi industrial delegation is due to arrive Monday to Beirut to discuss with Lebanese counterparts ways of cooperation and trade exchange. Lebanese trucks will arrive as of Monday to Baghdad to unload Lebanese products that will be exhibited in Baghdad Fair on 13th Oct.

Sports Round Up

-Ansar football team is to play tomorrow with Tadamoun-Tyre a match postponed out of the second phase of the 38th cup. Riyada wal Adab equaled 1-1 with Homenmen in a friendly match that took place Friday at Tripoli stadium.

-Ordinary chess championship final phase is to be inaugurated Monday under the supervision of the Lebanese union. The chess union announced that the first such tournament of Chess on internet will open today at Trimium-97 fair at Beirut hall at 5.00 p.m. Lebanese players from all ages will play with international chess stars.

-Lebanon's tennis union is anticipating schedule of games of Asia-Oceanea Davis Cup-1997 following the lottery that will take place on October 8th. The Lebanese team include Ali Hamadeh and Hisham Zaitini and the union is looking to name another player to support the Lebanese team.

-Wardieh-Mansourieh basketball team is leaving tomorrow to Egypt to join a training campus in Cairo and play friendly matches with Egyptian teams.

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