Hariri: Sanctions took a new course but will not affect our work in Parliament or government

The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said today that there are two groups of people in Lebanon, the first is optimistic while the second is pessimistic.

He said: “It is true that there are pressures and challenges on the economic and financial levels, but on the other hand, there is the adoption of the budget with its reforms and the low budget deficit, the implementation of the electricity plan and the Capital investment program, the development of the productive sectors, the implementation of the McKinsey plan, and starting the oil and gas drilling operations later this year. This is what I bet on and what will hopefully defeat all negative expectations.”

Asked to comment on the recent US sanctions against “Hezbollah” members of Parliament, Hariri said: “These sanctions are like the other existing sanctions, but there is no doubt that they took a new course by being imposed on MPs. But this will not affect parliament or the work that we do both in Parliament and the Council of Ministers. It is a new development and we will deal with it as we see fit and will issue a stance about it.

Hariri took these stances while sponsoring this afternoon, a ceremony honoring the former President of the Association of Banks in Lebanon Dr. Joseph Torbey, at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

Hariri said: “I am glad that we are gathered today to honor Dr. Joseph Torbey, one of the pillars of the Lebanese and Arab banking sector. In honoring him, we honor the entire banking sector, which always proved its solidity. It was the main pillar of the Lebanese economy despite the difficult circumstances and maintained the commitment to international standards and regulations, as testify all states and international organizations.

This was achieved thanks to the wisdom and leadership of distinguished Lebanese bankers such as Dr. Joseph Torbey, who believed in Lebanon, its economy and its youth. They were always supportive of the country’s development projects and accompanied the process of rebuilding Lebanon launched by martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.”

He added: “I am proud of my special relationship with Dr. Torbey on the personal level, and if we wanted to list his achievements during his national and professional career, we would need a whole day and perhaps more.

In addition to his successful leadership of Credit Libanais Group, he was elected five times as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Banks in Lebanon and for two successive terms as President of the Union of Arab Banks. He also served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of Arab Banks, as well as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Federation of Arab Bankers. This is a clear indication that Torbey has the confidence of the Lebanese and Arab banking sector by excellence.

Choosing him unanimously as the Arab Banking figures for the year 2019 is an affirmation of this confidence.”

Hariri continued: “What I would like to tell Dr. Torbey today is that Lebanon still needs him, his role, his experience and his wisdom. This ceremony is only one page in his unceasing national career that I wish every young man and woman in Lebanon would follow.

On this occasion, I would like also to wish Dr. Salim Sfeir all success in taking over the presidency of the Association of Banks. I would like to tell him that we are by his side and we are determined to keep the banking sector strong and maintain its success and strength.

I also want to seize this opportunity to talk to you frankly. There are two groups of people in the country today, the first is pessimistic and the second is optimistic. I personally go through periods during which I am pessimistic, but then I calm down and return to the constants. It is true that there are pressures and challenges on the economic and financial levels, and the level of the deficit and the public debt. Here I would like to commend the efforts of the Central Bank Governor Riad Salame, who puts before him one priority: preserving the monetary stability.

But on the other hand, there is the adoption of the budget with its reforms and the low budget deficit, the implementation of the electricity plan and the Capital investment program, the development of the productive sectors, the implementation of the McKinsey plan, and starting the oil and gas drilling operations later this year. This is what I bet on and what will hopefully defeat all negative expectations.”

He concluded: “We in the country sometimes look at things negatively, especially that some media and politicians have no other work but to destroy the Lebanese economic scene. It is true that we are facing challenges, but this does not mean that we, as Lebanese, who succeeded in the whole world, are unable to advance our country. We have the ability, the potential, the youth and the banking sector to do this and all that is required to reform this path and I rely on God and on you to achieve this.”

Sanctions

Asked to comment on the recent US sanctions against “Hezbollah” members of Parliament, Hariri said: “These sanctions are like the other existing sanctions, but there is no doubt that they took a new course by being imposed on MPs. However, this will not affect parliament or the work that we do both in Parliament and in the Council of Ministers. It is a new development and we will deal with it as we see fit and will issue a stance about it.

It is important that we preserve the banking sector and the Lebanese economy, and God willing, this crisis will pass sooner or later. We hope that this issue will not be exaggerated because it already exists and there is no need for analysis that will only lead to the aggravation of the political situation.

There is no doubt that Parliament does not approve of this matter. It is its own master and represents the will of the people. But the sanctions are something else. We must deal with the challenges and not create crises for ourselves. The most important thing that we must work on at present is to secure the needs of the Lebanese citizens and provide them with a good economic situation because they are fed up of political rhetoric and slogans. The things that we should care about are the citizen, the economy, the development, the education and the environment. This is what citizens want. If we continue to sell them words in politics, then we will all loose. We must work and focus on this.”

Source: National News Agency