Lebanon: Offshore gas tendering process to start as Cabinet discuss economy
The Cabinet [in Lebanon] is expected to launch the tender Thursday for companies wishing to conduct offshore drilling in Lebanon.
In its final session of the year, chaired by President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace, Cabinet is also set to issue executive decrees for the 2010 law that allows oil and gas exploration off the coast.
Cabinet is expected to approve a decree setting the monthly salaries of the newly established Petroleum Administration, despite the opposition some members are likely to raise over the amount. The six member committee was formed in November, and will have the power to negotiate with international oil companies and issues license to the firms that win the tender process.
The decree sets the salary at LL36 million per month, with LL25 million as a basic salary, a LL3 million housing stipend and LL8 million compensation for leaving previous employment. Members and their families will receive full health coverage and will be insured against workplace injuries.
Also on the 49-item agenda is a request by the Economy Ministry to buy wheat, a form of subsidy it engages in to keep the price of bread stable.
Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi will present a report to Cabinet by the Lebanese delegation that has been negotiating with the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The forum has recommended that Lebanon amend its banking secrecy laws, with a six-month implementation period.
The Transport and Public Works Ministry will ask for permission to task several companies with development projects in several Lebanese districts.
Cabinet will study a draft decree to give Saint Joseph University and the Association of Banks in Lebanon a permit to establish an institute for banking studies, as well as a draft allowing the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik to offer a degree in food industry engineering.
Also on the agenda is a proposal to form a new institution to manage Tyre's Public Hospital; a request that the Tourism Ministry be able to hold exams to fill vacancies in its staff; and a draft of an agreement between Lebanon and Armenia that would allow carriers of diplomatic and other special passports to enter Armenia without a visa.
Cabinet will hear two reports from the Department of Central Inspection: the first from the head of a committee that has been interviewing candidates for a social, health, and agricultural inspector, and the second from a committee that has been looking for a general inspector.
Minister of State for Administrative Development Mohammad Fneish will ask Cabinet to renew a U.N. program that works to modernize the public sector and boost good governance. Fneish will attempt to secure a $650,000 government contribution to the three-year renewal.
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