News from Beirut July 21 1997 ...Search

Government-Economists; Working Papers And Dialogue

-Prime minister Hariri and ministers reviewed Sunday preparations for today's forum of "enclave" with Lebanon economical associations to see to the current economical crisis. Mr.. Hariri, who returned Sunday from a trip to Spain and UK, went directly to Baabda palace upon his arrival to Beirut to hold talks with president Hrawi. Among the topics of discussions were the economical forum and the last political campaign against the government. President Hrawi's son in law foreign minister Fares Boueiz was one of the campaigners against the government. Hariri sources said the president was opposed to Boueiz critics against the government. Furthermore, Hrawi praised the prime minister during his meeting with visitors, who were extending congratulations in Mar Elias (St. Elias) occasion. The same sources said the two officials agreed on the reopening of a parliament's extra session. Hariri circles refrained to be involved in counter attacks, but argued if the government work during the past five years was against the will of the foreign minister. The circles noticed that the campaign against government is systematic and part of the usual campaigns that each time follow a successful trip abroad by the prime minister.

-The economical forum started today in Beirut at 9.00 A.M. with an open session and an address by the prime minister followed by a closed session. Ministers of economy, finance, agriculture, tourism, and industry will participate in this first such dialogue on economy, together with representatives of the country's economical groups. The socioeconomic problems turned to be a daily charge of the political atmosphere involving some ministers. The forum aimed to review the government financial and economical policy and try to break the cycle of present recession.

-The government working paper will center on:

1. The taxation policy, including direct and indirect tax namely the income tax. Taxation would be seen as one of the possible ways out which would help finance of the state projects and regenerate national economy. A proposal to adopt a long term taxation policy, including a T.V.A tax and rapid direct taxes would be proposed.

2.The issue of public debt: The government and bankers will propose, as a way to decrease the debt service and the internal debt through the treasury bonds, that the government to issue international market bonds guaranteed by Lebanon's subscribed US treasury bonds. In a long run, the internal debt is to be replaced by the low cost external debt, something that would help the decrease of interest rate on Lira, provide more liquidity to the local market, encourage long term lending in Lira, and consequently regenerate productive sectors.

3.The issue of privatization and role of the private sector, namely the sector to provide money needed to run official and semi official institutions such as electricity, water, regie, post, airport and seaport.

-The three pre mentioned guidelines indicate that the government is seeking to find enough resources to finance its projects at a time it is lacking such resources.

-The economical groups joint working paper will center on :

-The state financial policy: Proposing large scale decrease of the debt service, reforming the tax system on the basis of just distribution of the tax burden. On the custom policy, the paper will center on balancing between the state treasury need and the custom revenues, also maintaining and preserving the purchasing power of most of the Lebanese. The paper also will demand a real protection policy of the industrial sector and not to adopt the policy of banning agricultural products.

-The paper presented by the Lebanese Business society will call for an end to the politicians control of economy, altering it to their interest, also putting politics in service of the national economy. The paper said "if such transformation won't take place an economical catastrophe will take place in the country". The paper proposed a large scale tax reform, the example is that only 40 per cent of the car mechanics charges are collected, and same to the electricity bills. The paper called for curbing the public spending and reschedule of the general budget, also restrict waste of money in some of the state funds, and privatizing some institutions, something will provide the treasury with at least $400mn revenue. The paper also called for nonpolitical government employment.

-The banks association's paper will center on the external loans and lowering the interest rate to 13-14 per cent, also will call for accelerating money circulation, and regenerating demand of houses.

-At the opening statement today, the 36 minute statement of the prime minister, could have briefed the entire forum. The prime minister warned of changing the policies of his government. He mentioned that none of the Lebanese politicians could have ever discharge any of the civil servants unneeded surplus. He said a total of up to 10,000 employees should be discharged because they are not needed, but who dare to do it and send them home. Out of the information ministry 1,200 employees only 50 are needed to run it . The forum will adopt recommendations not binding decisions to avert surmounting the parliament power.


-President Elias Hrawi visit to his hometown Zahle over the weekend was brief and included only attending a sermon in Mar Elias occasion after which he returned to Baabda without receiving congratulations and well wishers.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz, before leaving to Vienna in a week visit upon an invitation from Austrian counterpart, said he is worried that the economical forum today would be "an overshadow of a certain deficiency". Boueiz, who recently mounted his campaign against prime minister Hariri, said there is no link between his critics and stand of the president.

-Patriarch Sfair on Sunday said "the tragedy in Lebanon is that some Lebanese, including officials, are ignoring the fact, thinking that hiding the truth will help solve problems, feed the hungry, and make things right. He argued that what is more worse of the deception is the self deception that denies danger while danger is existing at all sides. The patriarch celebrated at Bkaa Kafra the Mar Sherbel birthday with thousands of believers.

-Report from Sydney-Australia said anonymous persons infiltrated to third floor of the Maronite church where bishop Yussif Hitti resides but did not harm the bishop neither steel anything.. Australian police considered the incident as an attempted murder.

-Health minister and north MP Suleiman Franjieh, at a meeting attended by his Marada group and AMAL at Zghorta, said the relation with AMAL movement is a history old not years old, and it is so with all those who struggled for Lebanon and its independence, and for forcing Israel to go out from south Lebanon. Franjieh said he believes in relation with Syria but not as a "de facto". He said cooperation between Gen. Michel Aoun and Amin Gemayel with Israel is nothing new. Franjieh announced his rejection to the church intervention in politics and supported a new Maronite political line, which can attract Maronite public opinion, through which dialogue takes place with Syria and all others. Franjieh said extension of the term in office of the president also electing a new president are both a possibility.

-Former Algerian president Ahmad bin Bella arrived to Beirut upon an invitation from the "Pan Arab Forum" group to participate in the 45th anniversary of the Egyptian revolution on 23rd July. 1952. Bin Bella said this is his first ever visit to Lebanon in 40 years time .

-Transport minister Omar Miskawi said so many politicians are now speaking same tone of sheikh Subhi Tufeili, forgetting that by such say they damage the foothold of their post and rank.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili in an interview published today said the "hunger revolution" moving to Beirut and elsewhere will be fixed "whenever we want". He said the "revolution" had just started, there is enough time for it to spread over, and it has plans and schemes. Tufeili said allowing foreigners to buy shares in SOLIDERE meant that enemies can put their hands on Beirut, next to Palestine and Jerusalem. He called the resistance not to involve itself in the cycle of trading rockets, which is not a right method to defend the people. He said he wished the resistance not to be intimidated into a "Katyusha game".

-The Muslim community in Lebanon celebrated the prophet birthday with ceremonies and festivities.

-The National Syrian Socialist Party NSSP celebrated 48th birthday of the founder Antoine Saadeh on 8th July with rallies in various regions in Lebanon. Party president Ali Qansou said the no peace no war status won't go for long, and the more probable is an Israeli military escalation in south Lebanon. Qansou said the Israelis want Lebanon to accept proposals it earlier rejected such as Lebanon's First, which aims to pressure Syria and Lebanon, or perhaps to amend the April's understanding, in order to restrict resistance attacks only inside the security zone. Inaam Raad, who heads another faction of the NSSP, said the economical conference in Doha-Qatar is another Camp David type and "we are on verge of another Oct. war".

The Eighth Pan Arab Games- 8th Day


State--------- gold -------silver------ bronze--- total

Egypt--------- 46 ---------19--------- 21------- 86

Algeria ------- 23 --------- 26 --------24 ------- 73

Morocco -----12 --------- 12 -------- 6 -------- 30

Qatar --------- 8 ---------- 4 ---------2--------- 14

Tunisia -------- 7 ----------5 ---------11 -------- 23

Saudia -------- 6 --------- 6 --------- 14 -------- 26

Jordan -------- 4 --------- 3 --------- 10 -------- 17

Syria---------- 3 -------- 18 ----------23 -------- 44

Lebanon ------2 --------- 13 -------- 19 --------- 34

Kuwait  -------1 ----------5 --------- 10 --------- 16

Oman ---------1 --------- 1 ---------- 1 ---------- 3

Sudan -------------------- 1 ----------2 -----------3

Palestine ---------------------------- - 3 -----------3

Bahrain ------------------------------- 1 -----------1

Libya --------------------------------- 1 ---------- 1


Total ------- 113 --------113 --------148 ------- 373

-Arab football semi final games will be held Wednesday at the Sports City. Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria are to play in the semi finals.

First group scores

Jordan 5

Lebanon 5

Libya 2

Oman 2

Total 14

Second group scores

Syria 9

Kuwait 6



Total 18`

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