Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Committee Wednesday approved $150 million in soft loans, mainly for primary health care, paving the way for their approval in the Finance and Budget Committee before ratification by Parliament.
The $120 million in loans from the World Bank and $30 million grant from the Islamic Development Fund would likely begin to benefit some of the 200 primary health care facilities across Lebanon in 2019, caretaker Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani was quoted as saying by the state-run National News Agency.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Committee Chair and Amal Movement MP Yassine Jaber told The Daily Star that a subcommittee of Parliament’s joint committees had Wednesday completed “foreplay” on a draft law for establishing a sovereign wealth fund for potential proceeds from the oil and gas sector. The details of the law would likely begin being discussed next week.
Experts had presented their opinions on the fund’s model of governance and investment mechanisms during the subcommittee’s Wednesday session, Finance and Budget Committee Chair MP Ibrahim Kanaan – a member of the Free Patriotic Movement – said afterward in a series of tweets.
Lebanon in February signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration contracts with a consortium of three companies that are set to begin exploratory works in two maritime areas next year.
A second licensing round is also set to be held in early 2019. While Jaber said it seemed the health care loans would soon be ready for ratification at a general assembly of Parliament – which he said Speaker Nabih Berri would likely call before the end of the month – he noted the sovereign wealth fund law was still in the beginning stages.
“It’s like working on a stone – the artist chisels away and eventually it becomes a statue. A lot of laws come in in one format and leave in another,” Jaber said.
Meanwhile a subcommittee of Parliament’s Administration and Justice Committee chaired by Future Movement MP Samir Jisr discussed amendments to the 1983 Civil Courts Law.
The NNA reported that the committee deferred its discussion to a later meeting due to a lack of time.
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