Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, now in his second term in office, has pledged to submit delayed payments to a number of contractors to whom the government owes $40 million, reported Lebanon’s Daily Star.
Addressing the first annual meeting of the Federation of Arab Contractors in Beirut, Hariri told delegates and reporters that he has “given all ministries and public institutions guidelines to carry on projects initiated by the previous government and to abide by the contracts signed with different parties.” He did not say where the money would come from, however it is expected that he will announce a series of privatization measures and licenses that will bring in a substantial amount of capital.
In his speech, Hariri blamed the present difficulties with contractors on the administration of former prime minister, Salim Hoss. Under Hoss’s leadership, a strict spending regime was adopted placing a number of projects initiated during Hariri’s first term as prime minister on hold.
Fouad Khazen, chairman of the Contractors’ Association, told the Daily Star that his group “was assured by Prime Minister Hariri’s pledge to settle all dues to contractors and carry on projects initiated by his predecessors.”
One of the more contentious issues remaining to be settled involves the reconstruction of Beirut’s International Airport. Recently, Lebanon’s Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and Germany’s Hochtief signed an agreement for $500 million, to rebuild the mangled airport, however a dispute regarding payment has created an atmosphere of uncertainty amongst international contractors.
CCC area manager, Youssef Kenaan, said that his group is willing to settle the issue, noting that “There will always be problems with the government, but we need to keep work going and provide job opportunities to all these engineers who are abandoning the country.” The last remark was made in regards to the continued exodus of Lebanon’s bright architects and engineers, fleeing a market shrouded in uncertainty. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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