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MORNING BRIEF

Draft budget by the end of the week, more Ogero outages, food prices decrease: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Draft budget by the end of the week, more Ogero outages, food prices decrease: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Dozens of protesters representing the families of the victims of the Aug, 4, 2020 Beirut port blast gathered yesterday, Jan. 17, 2022, outside the Justice Palace to demand the resumption of Judge Tarek Bitar's probe into the explosion, which has been suspended for several weeks due to a legal challenge. (Credit: Anwar Amro/AFP)

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Prime Minister Najib Mikati promised a draft budget “by the end of the week” so that the cabinet can meet “early next week.” Mikati’s comments were made yesterday to pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat. The premier had previously said he would convene the cabinet as soon as the draft budget was completed, a promise now two weeks overdue. Now, political developments have made his new timeline seem slightly more plausible. On Saturday Hezbollah and Amal announced their decision to return to cabinet sessions, clearing the way to end the now three-month-long cabinet deadlock, brought about by disagreements over the fate of Judge Tarek Bitar’s leadership of the Beirut port blast investigation. Commenting on the turnaround, Mikati denied speculation that a deal had been reached to suspend the judge’s work.

Sofar, Aley lost internet yesterday due to the latest diesel shortage affecting the state telecommunications provider, Ogero. Over the weekend Ogero services were similarly interrupted across large swathes of the capital. Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm and Ogero director-general Imad Kreidieh said that the weekend’s outages were the result of an administrative delay in the payment of additional funds allocated to the office by Parliament in December; it stemmed from the failure to replace one of two accountants attached to the Telecommunications Ministry, who must countersign the transfer order. Parliament’s media and communications committee will meet to discuss the telecommunications sector at 9:30 a.m. today.

Food prices have begun to decrease in line with the lira’s rally, according to the head of the food importers’ syndicate. Hani Bohsali, head of the syndicate, estimated a price decrease of about 10 percent. The head of the supermarket owners’ syndicate told local media that prices are based on supplier price lists, with some items dropping by 25 percent. Economy Minister Amin Salam will hold a press conference later this morning to address prices and consumer protection.

Most public schools in Lebanon remain closed amid a standoff between teachers and the government over salaries. After the holiday break, schools were scheduled to reopen Jan. 10, but most are reportedly abiding by a strike called by the Public Primary School Teachers League. In a statement, the teachers’ group said “there will be no return to school before contracted and assistant teachers are paid their dues.” Manal Hdaife of the teachers league told L’Orient Today that its committee will meet again towards the end of the week to plan next steps, “but it seems like the decision will mostly lean toward not opening next week either, until the ministry gives a definite promise and results.”

Land transport unions head Bassam Tleis announced a new three-day general strike starting Feb. 2. Roads in a number of areas in Lebanon were closed last week due to a general strike called by the land transportation unions and the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers to protest deteriorating living conditions. The land transport unions head said that 98 percent of the unions’ drivers had committed to the “day of anger” strike.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from Monday:Thorny politics surround Lebanon's Egyptian-Syrian-Jordanian gas deal



Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Prime Minister Najib Mikati promised a draft budget “by the end of the week” so that the cabinet can meet “early next week.” Mikati’s comments were made yesterday to pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat. The premier had previously said he would convene the cabinet as soon as the draft budget was completed, a promise now two...