George Boushkian secures a quorum for the cabinet session.. And Najib Mikati: ‘Checkmate… We are servants’!

The Council of Ministers held a session this morning at the Government House headed by President Mikati and with the participation of his deputy, His Excellency Al-Shami, and the ministers in the caretaker government: Education and Higher Education Judge Abbas Al-Halabi, Interior and Municipalities Bassam Al-Mawlawi, Communications Johnny Al-Qarm, Media Ziyad Al-Makari, Environment Nasser Yassin, Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan, Public Health Firas Al-Abyad, Administrative Development Najla Al-Riyashi, Labor Mustafa Bayram, Social Affairs Hector Hajjar, Culture Muhammad Wissam Mortada, Youth and Sports George Kallas, Money Youssef Khalil, Industry George Bushkian, Public Works and Transportation Ali Diet. The Director General of the Presidency of the Republic, Antoine Choucair, and the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Judge Mahmoud Makiya, also attended.

After the session ended, the Prime Minister said: “The Council of Ministers convened today under the roof of the Lebanese constitution and the internal system for the work of the Council of Ministers, and we approved most of the items on the agenda, while some ministers, during the discussion, rejected some items, and they were not voted on, but were withdrawn from the session.” The ministers have played their role in full, according to the rules.”

He added, “I would like to address, on this occasion, a short message to all the Lebanese. By following up on some of what was reported in some newspapers, I say that today there was no king’s minister, and we are all in the service of this country, and we are cooperating to pass this very difficult stage. We are not in a position to envy.” Accordingly, and we are not pleased with the difficulty in meeting the many demands that come to us every day. If we had not held a session of the Council of Ministers today, the health sector, especially cancer patients and dialysis patients, would have suffered a great blow. We also approved several items in the session, the most prominent of which is related to Ogero, and if we had not taken The appropriate decision would have been the international telecommunications sector and the Internet threatened with complete interruption within a week. We also approved the appropriations for shoveling snow and roads.”

And he continued: “Some may talk about reducing the agenda from one item to 25 items, and I gave directions in this matter on Saturday after a number of ministers who did not attend today’s session requested that the agenda be brief in order for them to attend. Despite this, there was an objection today. I hope for All ministers are to attend when calling for cabinet sessions in case of extreme necessity.For this reason, I asked all ministers, who attended today’s session and those who did not, to hold a meeting at three o’clock to discuss together all issues as one family.The important thing is that we are one hand and work with intention Kindness and cooperation, and let us separate politics from the government work that is required to serve people’s affairs and deal with files that concern citizens. I thank all the ministers, and we will meet, God willing, to draw together an action plan.”

He said: “What hurts me the most is that some people try to place matters in the category of sectarian and sectarian calculations. None of us wants to take the place of the President of the Republic, and in order for this issue to be resolved, let the President of the Republic be elected quickly. The constitution assigned us certain tasks, and we must carry them out clearly.”

Then the Minister of Information announced the decisions of the Cabinet session as follows:
– A draft decree aimed at distributing funds allocated for treatment in public and private institutions at the expense of the Ministry of Public Health.
– A request to approve the request submitted by the Banque du Liban to pay $35 million per month for the next three months to purchase medicines for incurable, chronic and cancerous diseases, medical supplies, milk and raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry, from the Special Drawing Rights.
– A draft decree aimed at concluding a financing agreement signed between the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Lebanese Republic represented by the Ministry of Health to accept a financial donation.
– A draft decree aimed at amending the amount of monthly lump sum transportation compensation for military personnel in the army, internal security forces, public security, state security, customs police, and parliament police.
– A request to secure the army’s supplies and needs for the year 2023, according to consensual agreements.
– Requesting the use of seasonal workers and manpower to secure snow plowing works and open and remove channels on classified roads in various Lebanese regions for the 2022-2023 season.
– A request for approval of the license for the interest of railways and joint transportation Contracting with the private sector to secure the operation of buses for the transportation of the subscriber through a contracting procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Law.
Requesting approval for contractors to start teaching by the hour in high schools and public schools for the academic year 2022-2023 before ratifying their contracts from the competent authorities.
– Presenting the issue of acquiring the increase for military personnel in active service and retirees stipulated in Article 111 of the 2022 budget on the basis of the basic salary with its supplements, meaning that the military corps in active service and retirees are given social assistance equal to twice the supplementary salary they receive, i.e. it becomes between 5 million and 12 million”.

On the issue of the customs dollar, Al-Makari said: “It has not been dropped, and there are many matters that have been postponed because it is desirable that there be a session that includes more ministers. Of course, there are many urgent items, and there are issues that do not wait until the end of the year. Fines will fall on the Lebanese state and on the funds and agencies, and I think everything is clear, and you have all the numbers, and all the items on which the decision was taken, and they are clear.”

Regarding the tax imposed on a wide segment of the people, he said: “Of course, the Minister of Finance will work on the issue to reconsider it because there is a lot of objection to it.”

In response to a question, Al-Makari said: “Everyone was aware that a session of the Council of Ministers would be held, and the agenda was placed on the group of ministers on WhatsApp, and the decree issued by the President of the Republic says that the government was considered resigned, with the start of the parliament’s term last May, and I am at the level.” Personally, before the end of President Michel Aoun’s term, I always said that the cabinet meeting was necessary, because there are stalled decisions and because the country’s situation is uncomfortable.

And about what the ministers of the “Free Patriotic Movement” say that no one discussed them on the agenda, he said: “There are some ministers who objected because the items of their ministries were not included in the agenda. Today, President Mikati called for a discussion session on how to manage the sessions that will follow, if they are held.”

He was asked: Will all the ministers attend the session? He said: “I don’t know. I hope they attend.”

Regarding the Minister of Industry attending the session after issuing a statement not to attend, he replied: “I do not want to talk about this issue. There is ambiguity about it, and the minister can be asked about this matter.”

Regarding the inclusion of topics outside the agenda, he said: “The President will not proceed with this matter, nor will he proceed with any issue unless 24 ministers agree to it.”

For his part, Minister Hajjar said after the session: “We are with support for the humanitarian situation in all of Lebanon and all the Lebanese at the level of health, salaries and the Internet. No minister can be against managing these matters. I am a minister of social affairs and I know the importance and necessity of the humanitarian issue, and it cannot be Any minister is against him, and no minister can be accused of being a criminal if he does not participate in the session.After the parliamentary elections, the government became resigned, and after the end of the president’s term, it became not only resigned, but also did not enjoy the confidence of the new parliament, and it was more useful at this time to consult in the government within National responsibility for how to run the country until a president is elected and a new government is formed.

He added, “I asked President Mikati to take a step back, but he insisted on completing the session. I was hoping that the session would stop so that we would go back in the afternoon to discuss how to manage it. The battle is not a battle of who won or who did not win, rather the question is how will the country’s affairs be managed at this stage?” We are in the process of returning the compass in order to conduct this stage in a calm, objective, constitutional and pact manner.

The Minister of Labor said: “We are keen on the constitution in its details, because it regulates Lebanese life, and we are keen on all positions, and we take into account the case of not electing a president of the state, and this case is a case of error. We call for the election of a president who can speak with all the Lebanese, express their aspirations and respect their sacrifices.” .

He added: “On the other hand, the government, by virtue of the constitution, is concerned with the conduct of business, and the size of the disposal is a matter of discussion, but the principle exists that the government fulfills its duty, and because we are keen on this issue, we believe in the ‘winner-winner’ mentality, we respect those who are present and those who are absent.” For all its reasons and justifications.Because we are keen on explaining matters and because the situation is exceptional, we acted as the matter is exceptional, with evidence that there was a prior discussion of the agenda, and the agenda was limited to what is related to necessary matters in order to fit the state of exception, and the President’s response to this matter and the items were reduced from Dozens of clauses to clauses not exceeding thirty, and they were limited to necessary matters that cannot be postponed, and therefore the principle was respect for the constitution, and keenness on dialogue and the centrality and interests of people and the necessary matters. We believe in dialogue and call for dialogue and communication to solve all matters.

In response to a question about whether Minister Boshkian was pressured to attend the session, he said: “We do not pressure anyone, but in some cases we present our vision, as well as reasoning and interest. If the person is convinced, he walks with us.”

The Minister of Public Works said in response to a question: “We have not contacted and will not contact anyone. What brought us to the session is people’s pain, and therefore we rejected the item that talks about the value-added tax that did not pass, and we rejected the item that relates to the new customs tariff for Oil and kerosene, and they fell in the session, and what we added to the session is a matter related to all waste-sweeping companies in Lebanon whose work will stop this month, and therefore we hoped that Prime Minister Mikati would add this matter to the agenda, and a decision was taken in the Council of Ministers to continue their work next year, and this Something that relieves people’s pain.”

He said, “In the event that the issue of persistent snow shoveling is not approved by the Council of Ministers, it will not open any way, and adding them to the agenda will relieve people’s pain.”

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