Mikati’s priorities before the elections are electricity, laying out a rescue...

Mikati’s priorities before the elections are electricity, laying out a rescue...
Mikati’s priorities before the elections are electricity, laying out a rescue...

Hassan Alaik wrote in “Al-Akhbar”: Prime Minister Najib Mikati seems not in a hurry to reconvene the cabinet… The serious task in his view is to seek to restore electricity, prepare a financial rescue plan, and negotiate with the International Monetary Fund. All of this can be done, or at least prepared for, outside the cabinet.

Electricity is his main concern, but he seems to be committed to two unimaginable projects:
Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity;
And the proposal of banker Carol Ayat.
The first project is in full swing. Cairo did not get an exemption from the US “Caesar Act” sanctions on Syria, but it did get a “reassurance message” from Washington that allows it to start pumping gas to Lebanon, after the necessary maintenance operations in Lebanon and Syria have ended. It is expected that this matter will be completed, according to the government’s presidency, within two months at most (perhaps implementation can start before the end of this year). As for Jordan, it has not yet obtained an “American exemption” from the sanctions, in order to start transmitting electricity to Lebanon through Syria, in addition to technical problems that still need solutions.

The second project is based on the proposal of the banking specialist in financing the energy sectors, Carol Ayat, which was adopted by the Prime Minister after making amendments to it. This proposal provides for the ownership of a company by depositors whose funds are seized in the banks, to establish two plants for the production of electricity. Ayyat proposed transferring $4.8 billion held (Lolar) to $1.6 billion of the funds in the Banque du Liban as mandatory investments (the so-called “compulsory reserve”), to establish the company that will sell electricity to the Electricité du Liban, for a period of up to 20 years, provided that The ownership of the company and its property (the two production plants) will return to the state after that period. Over the course of the twenty years, the depositors-shareholders will receive dividends that will allow them to recover their money held in the banks.
The authors of the proposal and its supporters believe that it solves the electricity crisis, just as it solves the crisis of depositors. Mikati refuses to say that Ayyat’s plan is only a solution to the crisis of large depositors, pointing out that the proposal stipulates that politicians or bank shareholders should not participate in the project, and that the largest percentage of shares that any depositor will be entitled to own is only 3 percent. In a simple math, 34 depositors can take over the entire project. Mikati does not care about this, as he asserts that “all his concern” is to solve the electricity crisis, and “subscription will be open to all depositors. There is no other solution, no one accepts to lend us, and all international institutions have agreed to the project.”
Why doesn’t the state borrow from the Banque du Liban and build electricity plants, especially since it wants to double energy prices for consumers, or to use the $1 billion and $100 million it got in the Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund? “We can only use the mandatory reserve funds if deposits decrease, and this method is the best way to reduce deposits and use the reserves, and the bulk of the profits will be for depositors, with ownership in the end returning to the state.”
What about the SDR? “I do not want it to be said that I contributed to wasting it, while the country needs every reserve dollar, even as a pillow to put our head on. But perhaps we will use part of the amount to invest in electricity production, because we need about two billion dollars to be able to produce all our needs at peak times.”
In addition to large depositors, this project will relieve pressure on the banks that announced, weeks ago, their plan to save themselves at the expense of society.
Mikati does not see that the Lebanese banks can be reformed, “they need to be reconstructed.” Judging by the numbers in his hand, maybe four or five banks will survive the collapse. The banks’ plan, in addition to the amended plan of the Lazar Company (State Adviser), as well as the plan of the Banque du Liban and the paper prepared by Mikati’s working group, all of which the Prime Minister will refer to another working group, which refuses to reveal its members, in order to come up with a new recovery plan, will of course be presented to the International Monetary Fund.In his view, the responsibility is divided among four parties: the state, the Banque du Liban, the banks, and the depositors. However, in various cases, the latter category is “never responsible for the collapse. People put their money in banks, and banks put money in the Bank of Lebanon and made profits, and the Bank of Lebanon tempted them to do so, and it fixed the exchange rate demanded by successive governments, and financed the state.
Lazar’s plan, which was previously adopted by Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government, believes that it must be amended, “for how can the state advisor prepare a plan for it without talking to the Banque du Liban and the banks?” For this reason, “communication took place between Lazar and the Banque du Liban, which provided it with the numbers it needs, in addition to meetings between the company and the Association of Banks.”

It does not seem that on the prime minister’s agenda, before holding the elections, is the electricity project, the development of a rescue plan, and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. Negotiations with the latter will not result in an agreement on a program, but rather a preliminary agreement that appears closer to a declaration of intent.
In parallel, the government will increase wages: in the private sector, the increase cannot be less than two million pounds, but not more than four million pounds (less than $200). As for the public sector, a “monthly grant” will be provided to employees, based on figures prepared by the Ministry of Finance. In return, the customs dollar will rise, “which must be equal to the exchange rate of the exchange platform.” But you can start by increasing it to 10 thousand pounds. As for the financing card, it will not start working without financing!
In addition to the collapse that the government does not want to face except at a minimum level, there are three pending issues before the “state”:
The issue of the investigation into the explosion of the port, which Mikati says behind closed doors about what he says publicly, in terms of his refusal to interfere in the work of the judiciary. What is new is his request for the judicial inspection to summon all the concerned judges and hold them accountable to identify those who violated the law, and to take action against them.
Demarcation of the southern maritime border, which Mikati set a ceiling for is Line 23, stressing that he will not sign any resolution that waives Lebanon’s right to an area of ​​860 square kilometers.
– In the case of Minister George Qardahi’s statements, Mikati encourages Qardahi to resign, especially after he was informed from Arab and Western countries (the United States in particular) that any effort to resolve the crisis with Riyadh is pre-conditioned on Qardahi’s resignation.
The government does not seem that it will face collapse to the point of entering the stage of recovery. The highest hopes placed by its president for it are that the country will stop falling and settle at the bottom, in preparation for taking off… after years!

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