Lebanese Cabinet Seeks Expulsion of Electricite du Liban’s Directors
The Lebanese government moved a step closer to firing the board of Electricite du Liban for mismanagement Thursday as the company’s union delayed strike action for two weeks to allow mediation by the Labor Ministry, reported the Daily Star on Friday.
Addressing the weekly Cabinet meeting, Premier Rafiq Hariri was quoted as saying the government would adhere to a “firm, positive stand” on the question of safeguarding the state’s interests and the rights of EDL employees. He said the government had reviewed reports about the alleged non-settlement of electricity bills by a host of leading figures, including prominent politicians.
“It has become evident that there was certain administrative ill-functioning, for which nobody was brought to account. It is not permissible to let matters escalate,” an official statement quoted the premier as saying.
Government sources said a number of ministers requested that EDL’s board be fired, to which Hariri responded that time was needed to find replacements.
Emerging from the Cabinet meeting, which he chaired, Hariri told reporters that “many files will be opened and everything will be dealt with according to normal procedure.”
Energy and Water Minister Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Beydoun said the Cabinet welcomed the mediation under way between his ministry and the EDL employees, under the auspices of the Labor Ministry.
Replying to a question on whether a change of EDL’s board of directors was contemplated, Beydoun said: “All boards will change, not only that of EDL. There are 50 boards that will change.”
Significantly, the National News Agency said that the Labor Ministry’s director-general, Ratib Saliba, denied the ministry had received any request for mediation in the EDL strike, said the paper.
Beydoun had earlier met EDL union representatives, who said they would stick by the by-laws of the mediation.
EDL employees’ special power rates were eliminated by Parliament when it approved the 2001 budget. The government argues that the cancellation will curtail government spending at EDL, which loses about $500 million a year. Beydoun said the ministry would be willing to grant workers “what is rational.”
“But we won’t accept this method of slandering people, because this is way for settling personal disputes,” he said, referring to a list, leaked last Friday to the media, of prominent figures who have allegedly not paid their electricity bills. He reiterated that those who leaked the list would be prosecuted – Albawaba.com