Syrian president Hafez Assad received today Lebanon's prime minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri held yesterday and today three rounds of talks with the Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam. He is expected to meet with the house speaker and president Elias Hrawi at Baabda palace upon his return.
The budget attached article No 9 will be the main focus and center of discussion at the parliament. House speaker Nabih Berri was quoted saying the car mechanic charges are high and intolerable. In addition leasing space to cellular companies for 50 years and the high registration charges on the LU students are controversial points.
Head of the parliament finance and budget committee MP Khalil Hrawi, after a visit to president Elias Hrawi today, said the committee in principle rejects the car mechanic high charges also the lease to cellular companies and charges on the LU registration. He said he called the committee for a meeting on Thursday to discuss the draft budget which the committee received today.
Justice minister Bahij Tabbarra said after a meeting with the house speaker that Mr. Berri did not take stand yet on the article No 9.
MP Zaher el Khatib today said the 1998 draft budget is not an austerity one since its figures are much more higher than the 1997 budget.
State minister for finance Fouad Seniora said it is important to deal subjectively with the budget case and it is to our interest to have balance in our budget and stability in our financial situation. Seniora said the two international practiced methods are either to impose tax on income or tax on the consumption of income. He said the proposed charges are of the second category and it levied the high income people. Seniora said those who own luxury cars and can't bear its burden better give it up.
Economy minister Yassine Jaber, contrary to Seniora, said that raising up the car mechanic charge will be a burden on low earners. He said many people who own cars with large horse power but old made complained that charges on these cars are almost equivalent to its value price. He warned that these charges will be a burden on so many people and would affect the economical cycle because of the shortage of liquidity it will cause. Jaber said there are alternatives such as custom duty on commodities and goods.
The public works minister Ali Harajli sharply criticized austerity figures allocated to his ministry. He said the L.L125bn allocation to the ministry is hardly enough to repair main roads and collapsed walls. He said the ministry needs more allocations in order to deal with the very bad road network. He praised the increase of the car mechanic charge and the measure to exempt cars of the check up, saying this will save the citizen from paying charges and bribes. It is recalled that the charge as proposed is levied on the horse power capacity regardless of the check up.
The Iraqi delegation including industrialists and headed by chairman of the union of Iraqi industries Adnan Kodsi held series of meetings with the Lebanese officials and industrial groups. This is the first such visit by an Iraqi economical delegation since the embargo that followed the Gulf war and the sever of diplomatic relations by Lebanon.
The delegation arrived Sunday to Beirut. The economical openness toward Iraq seems to be lacking a political decision and there will be contacts with Damascus to coordinate two countries stands in this regard, leading report today said.
The head of the Lebanese Industrialists Association Jacques Sarraf visited president Elias Hrawi Monday evening and he is scheduled to meet later the prime minister and foreign minister for that purpose. Sarraf said the relation with Iraq is not exclusively economical and the political line should be specified. He said the relation with the Iraqi market is of long term nature. Iraq is a market of about 20 per cent of Lebanon's exports and closing this market cost Lebanon a yearly est $80 to 100mn loss.
Individual trade relations that try to counter the embargo are minor and represent 2-3 per cent of the size of exports. Some 40 commodity of Lebanese product would be exported to Iraq but after obtaining approval of both the UN and Lebanon.
The five nation cease-fire monitoring committee at its ten and half hour session Monday at Naqoura accepted as factual four complaints filed by Lebanon and Israel but denounced the blast explosion at Houla. Head of the Lebanese delegation Col. Maher Tufeili rejected allegations of the Israeli side saying the resistance was the one that planted the blast which killed a woman and her son. He supported his view saying the resistance denounced the crime and said when the resistance carry on any operation it announce it without hesitation. Head of the Israeli delegation did not make objection on the Col. Tufeili stand and for that the committee final statement did not refer to the party that planted the blast. The Lebanese delegation denounced too the Israeli allegations saying an armed Lebanese group fired mortar shells against an Israeli post from a residential area in Majdel Selim. The delegation said the firing was from different place and consequently the Israeli complaint is null and void and there is no violation to the April understanding because the target was a military one.
The committee meeting was presided by the French delegate ambassador Joseph Rapain. Chairmanship of the panel as of early this month is to the French after rotation with the American.
- US ambassador Richard Jones, after visiting foreign minister Fares Boueiz and introducing the new US charge d'affaires, said the gap is still too wide between Syria and Israel on the peace process. Jones said his country is helping Lebanon to remove land mines. He specified that these mines include only the ones out of the occupied territory.
- House speaker Nabih Berri affirmed that the farms of Shebaa town in west Bekaa are an integral part of Lebanon's territory and said any Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon should include this land. Representative of Shebaa people said he explained the misery of the people displaced from Arqoub area since 1969, who are ignored by the government, while the displaced fund is paying money to people who do not deserve it.
-MP Khalil Hrawi who heads the finance and budget committee yesterday said the administrative reform shall be developed and supervised.
-Mp Issam Fares ended his visit to Moscow and declared saying Lebanon realize the greatness of the Russian role.
-MP Boutros Harb, in a lecture in London University on Lebanon and the democratic future, said Lebanon is passing a period where rights and freedom of the citizen are posed to shake down. He called for liberation from the real occupation, that is fear, hesitation and surrender, before liberation of land from the foreign occupant. Harb argued how we can liberate our land from the foreign occupant if in each one's chest there is fear that dictate our decisions, and how we can maintain independence of the liberated land if we are slaves.
-Allowing foreigners to buy shares of the giant construction company Solidere is on the agenda of the government meeting tomorrow. The issue is one of 46 items on agenda. Laying down a modern environmental law is one of the items too.
-Minister of vocational and technical education Farouk Barbir said Hariri failed in his administrative reform because of Lebanon's structure. Barbir said the opposition in Lebanon shifted to a personal one and the political life in Lebanon is not proper because of lack of political parties.
-North people appealed to agriculture minister to save the apple crop which for the third consecutive year is posed to waste and damage without ensuring any marketing. In a cable to the minister they said the apple season is an earning to 60 per cent of the people in the North.
-Lebanese car racer Jean Pierre Nasrallah and his assistant Joseph Mattar ranked fourth in Cyprus international Rally that was held from 26 to 29th Sept.
Nasrallah faced mechanical problems during the 1,004 Km race divided on 20 rounds.
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