In a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, key issues were postponed, including the upcoming vacancy in the Lebanese army's leadership and proposed legislation on restructuring the banking sector.
Caretaker Agriculture Minister Abbas Hajj Hassan explained the delay of the draft law on banking reform to L'Orient-Le Jour by saying that "a matter so vital for the Lebanese people deserves a more thorough examination." Hassan mentioned that a dedicated session is planned for next week, with all relevant stakeholders invited to participate.
Since 2019, Lebanon has grappled with a severe economic crisis. Amid this turmoil, banks imposed unauthorized restrictions on their clients. The state has both tolerated these actions and at times attempted to regulate them.
Caretaker Agriculture Minister Hassan also highlighted that Cabinet discussed a proposed agreement with Starlink, Elon Musk's SpaceX satellite Internet service. This discussion is also deferred. Additionally, the Council requested the caretaker Economy Minister to develop a price-monitoring mechanism for the private sector, to be reviewed later.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami, a proponent of the bank restructuring bill, expressed to MTV his desire for the bill’s adoption. He emphasized the unsustainability of consistently deferring decisions until all reforms are finalized. He also criticized certain ministerial objections, asserting that the bill clearly delineates responsibilities pertaining to the country's economic collapse.
Critics of the bill have accused it of diminishing the state's accountability.
The banking sector reform bill, introduced by Chami to the former government of Najib Mikati on Nov. 10, was crafted by the Banque du Liban (BDL) and the Banking Control Commission of Lebanon (CCB). It features 48 articles outlining the restructuring or potential liquidation processes for Lebanese banks, with the final 10 articles dedicated to exceptional measures to ensure banking security.
Cabinet also neglected to address the imminent vacancy in the army command, resulting from the approaching retirement of army chief Joseph Aoun in January. This vacancy coincides with the absence of a sitting president. Following the meeting, caretaker Information Minister Ziad Makari, responding to an inquiry, confirmed that this issue was not discussed. Instead, he relayed the key points of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati's address at the beginning of the session.
The latter stressed the importance of "the emergence of an awareness among the populations of certain major countries in support of the Palestinian people." He also pointed out that his recent discussions with international leaders have tended towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Finally, with regard to the conflict between Hamas and Israel and its repercussions on Lebanon, outgoing Labor Minister Moustafa Bayram declared that "the principle of compensation" for the inhabitants of southern Lebanon who suffered damage as a result of the border clashes with the Israeli army had been approved, and that its implementation would be assumed by the Lebanese authorities, once their investigation into the damage is concluded.
The same applies to the education sector, in particular to teachers in schools in the region which have suffered damage, but also to schools further north, in the district of Sour, which have been requisitioned to accommodate the displaced. Finally, a draft decree is under discussion to help public sector workers in the region.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Amelia Hankins.