News from Beirut February 26  1998 ...Search

Hariri holds talks with Hoss among other visitors

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri continued his consultations for a third day. At government palace, the premier held talks with former prime minister Salim Al-Hoss, ministers Mohsen Dalloul and Elie Hobeika and a delegation form the Syrian National Social Party headed by Ali Kansou. After his discussions with the premier, Hoss criticized the government's overall policy saying the government should seek more revenues from cellular phones and marine property fees. He also stressed a clear distinction should be drawn between the country's legislative and executive powers and consequently their decisions. He called the government not to exhaust the ordinary citizen by the heavy burdens of taxation adding the government should also be watchful of any increase in the national debt.

But sources close to Hariri soon replied to a number of statements made by the former prime minister saying his claims contradict his constant call for constructive criticism. The sources listed the many developments achieved since Hariri came to office five years ago in the different sectors of education, health, infrastructure, electricity, phone systems, and other areas. The sources also defied Al-Hoss's claims which accuse the Hariri government of ignoring the war-displaced files by noting the sums of money that were spend for this cause during the last five years. After meeting Hoss, the prime minister also held talks with a delegation from the Syrian National Social Party. The head of the party Ali Kansou later stressed the subject of administrative reform should be considered as a key issue when discussing the socio-economic and political conditions of the country.

Kansou also said his party carried to the premier a number of ideas regarding ways to find resources for ensuring the return of the war-displaced, the ratification of the pay-scales draft law and the implementation of the government's development plans in rural and underprivileged areas in the country.

Berri calls for a parliamentary legislative session

House Speaker Nabih Berri yesterday called for a legislative session to be held in parliament on the fourth of March. 27 clauses are expected to top the agenda of talks which includes discussions regarding the ratification of pay-scales draft law and the deletion of certain clauses of the 1998 state budget law among other issues. Visiting deputies also quoted Berri as saying priority discussions must center on the war displaced file. Berri reportedly added the pays-scales draft law can be another priority.

Miskawi discusses current issues with Kabbani

Transportation Minister Omar Miskawi yesterday held talks with Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Kabbani at Dar Al-Fatwa in Beirut. Miskawi later said the country is in need of more stability on all levels, hoping Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's consultations in this regard to be fruitful and successful. Miskawi also described Kabbani's refusal of an optional civil marriage law suggested by president Elias Al-Hrawi as natural adding marriage is a basic value in the Lebanese society. Miskawi also said it is very risky to introduce drastic changes in the structure of  the Lebanese society at such a critical point in time calling on the president to withdraw his proposal.

Arslan meets Sfeir at Bkirki

Immigrants Minister Talal Arslan discussed the war-displaced file with Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir at Bkirki in the first such visit since Arslan took office in the ministry two years ago. Arslan later described the issue as a national priority adding all the Lebanese, officials and citizens, should cooperate to find solutions and ensure funds to ensure the return of the displaced to their villages and homes in the different Lebanese areas. Speaking to reporters, Arslan refused to reply to questions concerning his relationship with Minister Walid Jumblatt or those related the Druze Sect in Lebanon. But Arslan revealed he was scheduled to meet Jumblatt soon.

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