CABINET ADOPTS IMPORTANT REFORMS AND FOLLOWS-UP ON THE FIRE CAUSES AND DAMAGES

When the Cabinet meeting chaired by the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail ended, Information Minister Jamal Jarrah said:

At the beginning, Prime Minister Hariri and the ministers expressed their condolences to the families of martyrs Abu Mujahid and Sareini, who passed while helping to extinguish the fires that swept through many areas of Lebanon. Prime ministers Hariri and the Council of Ministers also thanked the countries that stood with Lebanon, most importantly: Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Italy, for their efforts and assistance during the fires.

We thank, of course, the Lebanese citizens and institutions that helped and stood by the official institutions, such as civil defense, fire brigade and the security forces, and helped them in all fields, turning it into a near consensus among the Lebanese people to help as much as possible, to extinguish the fires.

We also thank the reporters who were injured during their coverage of the fires, and we wish them a speedy recovery, as well as all the media working all the time to inform the citizens.

The HRC was tasked with carrying out the necessary statistics to determine the damage, and the Ministry of Justice opened an investigation into the cause of the fires. The Ministries of Interior and Defense were asked to report to the Council of Ministers on the causes of these fires, the obstacles they faced and the steps the Council of Ministers should take to prevent them from happening again.

As for the reforms adopted today, which are very important, a decision was issued by the Minister of Finance to raise fees on imported and locally produced tobacco, and approved the installation of scanners at the border to control smuggling, and asked all public institutions and utilities not to make any additional investment expenditure, except after the approval of the Council of Ministers, and the transfer of the surplus of these institutions on a monthly basis to the Lebanese treasury, provided that the duration of this decision is a year, and the Council of Ministers will name these institutions and bodies.

The Council of Ministers also approved the principle of corporatization of the port and other institutions, and a list will be issued. Electricity was postponed due to the absence of the concerned minister. We also approved the cancellation and integration of some institutions and public utilities that are unnecessary or can be included in other ministries.

The Minister of Finance was also tasked with conducting an inventory of the state’s real properties in preparation for a decision on its use. We also passed a law program over 3 years worth 470 billion Lebanese pounds, in order to implement the investment projects approved in Parliament amounting to $ 3.3 billion dollars.

This will be a very important boost to the economy when projects worth $ 3.3 billion are injected into the Lebanese economy. A list of CIP projects was distributed to determine the priorities and start the implementation, because there is $ 1.2 billion ready to be spent according to the priorities and importance of projects.

The Ministers of Labor and Parliamentary Affairs were tasked with following up the law known as the pension law, which had already been approved by the Council of Ministers and sent to the Parliament. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs should follow up the matter with the Minister of Labor to quickly place it on the agenda of the Parliament. Ministers were also asked to make suggestions about a draft World Bank study on reforms. It was also decided to give a 5% subsidy to factories on additional exports. If this factory exports this year goods worth $ 1 million, and exports next year goods worth 1.2 million, it gets a 5% subsidy on the additional 200 thousand to encourage industrial exports.

There is also a research on agriculture and other issues. It was agreed to transfer the McKinsey plan to the Economic Commission for consideration, and adhere to Prime Minister Hariri’s circular on buying national products so they get priority in public institutions and ministries.

The issue of medicine is also very important, and it was requested to reflect on tenders for all State administrations importing medicines, giving priority to generic and locally manufactured medicines. As for fuel, it was decided to buy them from the General Petroleum Corporation. Implementing regulations for electronic transactions were approved, as well as restructuring the public sector, a paper on displaced persons and approving the export declaration of origin, i.e. issuing a statement of origin describing the goods, to adopt the customs duties accordingly, to prevent smuggling and evasion of customs.

Tomorrow, we will hold a cabinet meeting at 2:30 in the afternoon, we will finish the agenda and then we will continue to discuss the budget.

Question: What about determining the value-added tax?

Jarrah: We postponed the discussion until tomorrow.

Question: Does the decision you made mean that the state will import oil?

Jarrah: Establishments usually import fuel oil, and when the state wants to buy, it makes contracts with the facilities. The other topics are discussed, which are gas and gasoline. We are talking about state contracts. For example, the army began to implement these contracts and allowed oil installations to participate in tenders for fuel oil.

Question: In the paper of Minister Gibran Bassil, he requested to abolish some institutions, such as the Council of the South and the Fund for the Displaced, did you decide on that?

Jarrah: In principle, a number of institutions have been chosen because they do not work. As for the rest of the institutions, there is a list submitted to the Council of Ministers, each of which has its own procedures. Therefore, we should examine the procedure and their importance and need and then take a decision.

Question: Will you discuss tomorrow tax procedures?

Jarrah: Tomorrow we will continue the study, and there are laws that we will refer to Parliament. There are reforms that will be introduced in the budget and others that need decrees.

Source: Bahrain News Agency