Parliament is the last rain to save what can be saved. But the rescue cannot be in the form of a recommendation, a right, that is intended as a void. Disseminating the experience of forensic auditing to all departments, his job was nothing but to protect the safety and class of beneficiaries of his policies from auditing his own accounts. Audit mechanisms in governmental institutions, bodies and departments are easy and possible whenever there is the will to do so, but the Central Bank of Lebanon is the only one that does not know what goes into it and what comes out of it. If the council had really been keen on uncovering the points of defects and corruption in the management of the Central Bank, it could have simply come out with the law proposal submitted by the Lebanese Forces to suspend banking secrecy in all matters related to financial and criminal auditing in the accounts of the Central Bank and approve it, instead of going to a recommendation of no value Her in this context. All that recommendation did was to shift the discussion from Salameh’s refusal to disclose the accounts of the Banque du Liban to confirming the opening of state accounts for auditing.
In the same context, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers issued a circular yesterday, asking all public institutions, municipalities, municipal federations, independent interests, councils, funds, and departments with attached budget … and that have accounts in the Banque du Liban, to do what is necessary with the latter in order to subject their accounts to the required criminal scrutiny. .
This is also a circular with no value, to be added to the Finance Minister’s letter to the Banque du Liban. Firstly, there is no longer any party or company that performs criminal checks, and secondly, the Banque du Liban still decides what information can be disclosed and what can be concealed, and it has done so with Alvarez & Marsal, even with regard to information that cannot be covered with confidentiality. Banking.
The worst is that the government, which remained insistent not to assume responsibility for any decision related to rationalizing support, found in the call to yesterday’s session a salvation tree for it, exempting it from any unpopular decision, before it became clear that the MPs, in turn, which is obvious, are not able to replace the authority The executive or the Banque du Liban venue, which in turn refuses to bear responsibility, bearing in mind that in the session, those who insisted on issuing a recommendation regarding the support, have no function except to free Riad Salameh from his responsibilities.
As a result of the lack of clarity of the direction of the session and the division of the deputies between relieving Riad Salameh from the burden of the decision (this axis was led by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elie Ferzli) and the one responsible for it (this axis was led by MPs Jamil al-Sayyid, Hassan Fadlallah, the bloc of forces and the Free Patriotic Movement in part), it quickly turned To Souk Okaz, the deputies took turns to speak. It was clear in its conclusion that the deputies refused to assume responsibility that was not part of their duties. Therefore, the eighty deputies found before them nothing but to return the ball to the court of the government and the bank, so they demanded that it present a concept or project, in coordination with the Banque du Liban, and present it to the Parliament.
Shaheen: The two audit firms are currently collecting gold
Salameh did not find any point in going to the session. He dispatched his third deputy, Salim Shaheen. And the latter, who was keen to announce that he represents the Central Council of the Banque du Liban, not its governor, said that he and his colleagues, upon their appointment and by virtue of their work, examined the accounts owned by the bank abroad, and it turned out that the current total of $ 17.9 billion, of which $ 17.1 billion are mandatory reserves for banks Which means that the usable reserve from the bank’s point of view is only 800 million dollars. Shaheen also announced that the two financial auditing firms KPMG and Oliver Wyman are currently working on counting gold, indicating that this has not happened since 1996. He also said that 60 percent of this gold is in Lebanon, while the remaining 40 percent are in the United States.
Until this task is completed, the reality indicates that the remaining amount ($ 800 million) is practically close to the cost of support for one month, but after the subsidy is reduced for many products, and consumption shrinks, it could suffice for two months. This is what Salameh referred to in his interview with Al-Arabiya – Al-Hadath TV.
The Minister of Finance had indicated at the session that the subsidy issue ranged between three possibilities: Either continue support, stop it, or rationalize it. And since the first option is not guaranteed results with the possibility of running out of dollars, and since the second option will cause a social disaster, the trend has become decisive towards rationalizing support, with the possibility of raising the issue of the ration or financing card, which will be difficult to determine the beneficiaries of it.
In the Central Council, when the card issue was discussed, the orientation was of two; Given the difficulty of determining those entitled to the card, it was suggested that the non-eligible be identified, on the grounds that this would be easier, and the margin of error in it is much lower. As for Salameh, he was inclined to a more comprehensive proposal, whereby the card would be given to all the Lebanese, which directly means reducing the number of beneficiaries of support to about one million and 800 thousand Syrian and Palestinian citizens (provided that the concerned international bodies would support them). Needless to apply for the card, which then guarantees reaching a reasonable number of beneficiaries, with a lower margin of error.
All of this was frozen yesterday, pending the government’s proposal or a conception of how to lift the subsidies, to be discussed at the next meeting of the committees (next week or the next). Until then, the trend has become almost conclusive to make a significant reduction in the list of subsidized foodstuffs, in addition to restricting drug subsidies to chronic disease drugs, while fuel subsidies are expected to decrease significantly.
El-Sayed: To isolate Salameh for medical reasons
The “Najma” session yesterday were MPs Hassan Fadlallah and Jamil Al-Sayed. The first refused “to put the Lebanese in two things: either harm to the obligatory reserves and the depositors’ money, or harm the sustenance of the poor by lifting subsidies.” On the issue of mandatory reserve, Fadlallah said: “How do we discuss this issue in the absence of any real numbers or data that the Central Bank was supposed to provide?” And he continued: “This issue has nothing to do with us as deputies, and it cannot be discussed in the council and any position taken. Before providing the correct data ». Fadlallah said, “There are those who caused the acute crisis that we reached, through financial and monetary policies, and through financial crimes, and it is not possible today to assume responsibilities for those who have nothing to do with it. There is a political financial junta that brought us to where we have come, and it must assume responsibility and not throw these accusations on people. ”
As for MP Jamil Al-Sayed, he considered that “the absence of the Governor of the Banque du Liban” is an insult to the Council, and that the government is using you as a mop on an issue that is its own and its jurisdiction. ” He added, “We said that the support is for 250 items.” On televisions, we hear about drug, diesel, flour, mismanagement and other smuggling, and even bread. Have you heard about a judge who moved or judged who told us that we arrested so-and-so, and after that nothing ». He asked, “Who covers these powerful people who steal people’s money? When the Banque du Liban supports you, it gives you some of the people’s money it has. He added, “There is no work that can match or simulate the scale of the crisis we are in.” I told them to raise the session and take 48 hours, and demand the government to hold an emergency session with the Banque du Liban, during which you will present a proposal for support, and we discuss it in a way that fits our requirements, whether it increases or decreases, according to our contact with people.
And the master said if the ruler says 10 years, 5 years, 4 months and 3 months ago that the lira is a thousand good, the dollar is a thousand good, and reserves are a thousand good, and do not be afraid of your money. Yesterday, he said that the financial crisis in Lebanon is behind us. This has a serious health reason, meaning that it is not reasonable that a person with a normal condition says these words, that he is the ruler of the Bank of Lebanon, and he is in a state of denial, and the state can remove him for a health reason.
In turn, MP Ibrahim Kanaan said that what is happening in the session is statements and stances, not discussions, indicating that “the government should have come up with a practical proposal and distribute it to the representatives, but this did not happen.”
Secretary of the Democratic Gathering Bloc, Representative Hadi Abu Al-Hassan, declared that «the time has come to ask the question, what shall we do? The Banque du Liban announced that it has only two months left to provide support to the Lebanese, and some of the data that was leaked indicate that we touched the forbidden line to harm the reserve requirement.
Abu Al-Hassan pointed out that “what is required is to form a government, as well as an emphasis on carrying out reforms, and then bringing in aid, but in light of the current political stumbling, we call on the caretaker government to assume responsibility, coalesce and make decisions.” He said that “there is no solution today except by adopting a national and comprehensive decision to rationalize support, so that it is directed to those in need, realizing the principle of social justice, and protecting the remaining funds of the Lebanese.”
Representative Muhammad Al-Hajjar distinguished between mandatory reserves and mandatory employment. He said that the mandatory reserve is required by the central bank from local banks, which put money in a certain percentage in the national currency with zero interest in the central bank, while 17 billion dollars are mandatory investments and not a mandatory reserve. He said, “The discussion should be part of a complete plan through which we agree with the IMF, and the priority remains to form the government, and the policy of guiding support cannot be useful if it is not accompanied by stopping smuggling.”
A member of the “Development and Liberation” bloc, MP Ali Hassan Khalil, affirmed that “the total support for the poor and middle classes does not exceed 25%, and most of the support does not extend to the poorest families, as there are 155,000 families under the upper limit of poverty, and 260,000 families below the poverty line. The lowest, and therefore we have half of the Lebanese people classified from the poor who are unable to secure their livelihood in the current circumstances ». He said, “Our duty is to push towards supporting the poor classes directly so that 75% of the support is not lost to foreigners or the affluent classes that can bear this imposition,” stressing that “this matter for us can only be secured through legal legislations that guarantee the protection of families. Poor ».
Deputy Amin Sherry touched on the issue of the criminal investigation, hoping that Berri would have a special session to discuss or hold the Central Bank accountable for its executive and financial policy in previous years on the issue of support.
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