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Lebanon’s government shifts to interim mode amid calls to speed up economic recovery plan

BEIRUT: The term of Lebanon’s newly elected parliament begins on Sunday amid warnings that any delay in the country’s economic recovery plan will come at a high cost. The term of the previous legislature expired on Saturday.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Najib Mikati’s government was considered to have resigned based on the constitution.

Aoun expressed his gratitude to the prime minister and ministers, asking the government to act in interim mode until a new government is formed.

The Cabinet held its final session on Friday packed with last-minute decisions, including approving the economic stimulus plan, amid objections from ministers from Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.

Mikati said: “Deposits up to $100,000 will be fully protected”, stressing at the same time that there is “no economy without banks”.

The plan’s financial strategy includes a program to restore financial solvency “as a priority to strengthen confidence in the state”.

In the medium to long term, it aims to put debt on a downward path through the implementation of gradual financial adjustments accompanied by permanent and strategic debt restructuring reforms.

The government also plans to cancel a large part of the Central Bank’s foreign currency obligations to commercial banks.

The Cabinet approved an increase in the telecommunications tariff, from July, accompanied by the formation of a ministerial committee to examine the remarks of the plan of the Minister of Communications.

He did not endorse the customs dollar item after the finance minister took it off the agenda “to avoid public anger”.

The Cabinet approved the allocation of $35 million for chronic diseases and anti-cancer drugs, on the condition that the amount be guaranteed by the Housing Bank in US dollars, which would be enough for four months.

Mikati warned: “Any delay in the recovery plan will have a high cost. If we had solved this problem two years ago, the cost would have been much lower.

He stressed that bailout opportunities were only available through the International Monetary Fund and that the Central Bank should set the necessary standards to ensure the economy grows.

He criticized attempts by some to prioritize their interest over the public interest, indirectly finding fault with the way the Free Patriotic Movement had handled the electricity crisis.

“I have personally received two offers from companies wishing to operate the Al-Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants to produce electricity from gas at excellent prices. A consulting firm was commissioned to study the two offers, but unfortunately the Minister of Energy withdrew this item from the Cabinet agenda for further discussion.

MP Ashraf Rifi, commenting on the electricity issue, said on Saturday: “What Mikati said about the removal of these offers from the Cabinet’s agenda constitutes the continuation of a major crime committed against the Lebanese immersed in the ‘darkness. Hezbollah-backed Gebran Bassil is solely to blame.

Bassil, he added, had taken over the Ministry of Energy since 2008 “as if it were his personal property, with all the failures, waste and corruption practiced within it, and the Lebanese are paying for it. price”.

Rifi called on Sovereign and Reform MPs to make the electricity issue their priority, agree on an action plan and hold those involved to account.

The International Lebanon Support Group has called for the necessary legislation to be passed to ensure economic stability in Lebanon, strengthen governance and implement the reforms that Lebanon and its people urgently need to get the country back on its feet.

The ISG also called on all parties concerned to move quickly to form a government capable of implementing vital and long overdue reforms and to continue to work with the IMF, including the implementation of the prior measures Lebanon committed to the April staff-level agreement. 7 to lay a solid foundation for the sustainable social and economic recovery of Lebanon.

The US State Department has urged elected lawmakers and political leaders to heed the Lebanese people’s call for change and work earnestly and urgently to take the necessary steps to save the economy.

He called for the rapid formation of a capable and determined government to carry out the serious work needed to restore the confidence of the Lebanese people and the international community.

The elected parliament is preparing to elect a president and a vice-president.

The Development and Liberation bloc announced the appointment of Najib Berri as speaker of parliament following a meeting he chaired. He has led Parliament since 1992 and no one is running against him.

If Berri is elected by acclamation, it will be his seventh term.

The bloc stressed the need for the caretaker government to carry out its functions during the transitional period and follow up on issues that affect the people and their economic and social problems, especially controlling the exchange rate and securing the fuel, bread and other necessities.

The FPM, the Lebanese Forces Party and independent and reformist deputies are against Berri’s nomination.

Member of the Development and Liberation bloc, Dr Michel Moussa, told Arab News: “In this decisive stage, the parliamentary blocs are communicating with each other to express their positions on Berri’s candidacy, while it is only natural that He introduces himself”.

He explained that the blocs would hold their meetings next week. “But in Lebanon, everything is decided at the last minute.”

From Sunday evening, the elected deputies will have 15 days to elect the speaker, said Moussa.

Otherwise, the process of appointing a new prime minister to form the next government would be halted, provided the caretaker government continues to function until a decree to form the new government is issued.

“All of these things will become clear next week.”

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