Lebanon News

Berri yields to March 14 call for Parliament session on performance of Cabinet

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri heads a legislative session at the Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri called Monday for a Parliament session between April 17-19 to assess the government’s policies. The session will convene at morning and again in the afternoon during the three days.

The discussions in Parliament next week will be the first of their kind since the formation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet last June.

March 14 opposition MPs have been asking Berri to call for the session during the last few months, with the speaker promising to hold it once the regular legislative calendar ends.

The session is expected to see March 14 MPs questioning the policy of the Cabinet in several fields.

The opposition accuses the government of corruption and unproductiveness and claims it has been a tool of the Syrian regime since its inception.

In remarks last week, Chouf MP Marwan Hamade said that during the session, opposition MPs would put Energy Minister Gibran Bassil up for a vote of confidence for violating laws.

“The electricity issue will be discussed in Parliament’s upcoming session when we will put Bassil up for a vote of confidence because he violated the laws approved by all of us months ago and he has not implemented any of them,” Hamade said.

The lawmaker was referring to a $1.2 billion energy bill, passed by Parliament last year to boost Lebanon’s deteriorating electricity sector.

The draft law obliges Bassil to form the Electricity Regulatory Authority within three months and a new board of directors for Electricite du Liban within two months of the bill’s endorsement.

Also, the opposition holds Bassil and the Cabinet responsible for illegal profit red-gasoil distribution companies allegedly made in January by purchasing $80 million of red gasoil when it was exempt from VAT.

They are also accused of making the substance available to customers only after the government reinstated VAT on it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 03, 2012, on page 3.




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