3 Feb 98:
The opinion of
local residents is paramount in selecting municipal councils, Walid Jumblatt
said as he toured villages in the lower Chouf to campaign for brisk
participation in local election in spring
Residents conveyed him their
fears that the government would continue ignoring the need to develop the
infrastructure of their towns and called for more support for farmers in the
4 Feb 98:
Until all the
displaced are able to return to their homes, the will be no genuine national
unity, Batroun MP Boutros Harb said.
Failure to include the issue in 1998
budget plans indicated the government's neglect, he said, and could have been
an attempt to hide the true deficit.
$4 billion sought
from cellular phone companies to fund the return process.
The LL 150
billion Baalbek-Hermel development plan endorsed by the government last summer
will top the cabinet's agenda in its first meeting since the 1998 budget was
passed ten days ago.
Berri has previously suggested that the contracts
between cellular phone companies and the government, originally for the period
of ten years be extended for an additional 18 years on the conditions that
Cellis and Libancell each pay the government $2 billion in advance. This sum
would be used to finance both the salary increase and the return of the
9 Feb 98:
Jumblatt blasted Hariri's proposal to
spend LL 991 billion on development in underprivileged areas terming it an
opportunity for "bribery" and conflict between regions over funding.
13 Feb 98:
In an attempt to
find revenues to speed up the return of the displaced, MPs and the government
have begun negotiations aimed at encouraging private banks to contribute.
According to the new proposal, private banks would allocate part of their
deposits placed in the central bank with no interest rate, to finance the
return of the displaced without endangering the monetary situation.
way, no cash flow problem would occur as only part of the deposits would be
Moreover, the interest rate to be paid on the amount used to finance
the return would not exceed 5 to 6%.
At present, more than $700 million has
been spent for the return of the displaced and the equivalent, at least, is
still needed to complete the national issue. Only 20% of the return process has
been achieved and accusations of squandering against the National Fund for the
Displaced are still mounting.
A recent conflict between Jumblatt and Hariri
over the lack of money for the return intensified, especially since no funds
were allocated in the budget.
18 Feb 98:
From a modest
center in Sidon in 1973, Caritas has expended to include 317 centers throughout
the country where close to 3000 volunteers work to revive Christ's message.
Caritas also addresses humanitarian issues, such as the return of people
displaced during the war years. They have helped 15000 return since end of the
19 Feb 98:
chief Georges Saadé said the return of the displaced could occur only
when they felt there was true national reconciliation.
The issue does not
depend on a political decision or on funds but can be resolved when the
displaced feel that they fate is secure.
23 Feb 98:
to use ropes and ladders because of the decrepit state of their building in
Beirut's suburbs have appealed to the authorities to help them somewhere else
to live before it collapses.
The 24 families claim the Rahmé
building in Al Tariq el Jdidé was so badly damaged during the 1982
Israeli invasion that is imminent danger of collapse and have appealed for
funds to help resettle them.
They called on the National Fund for the
Displaced to come to their aid as 22 of the families were made homeless during
24 Feb 98:
The return of
Christian war-displaced to villages in the Chouf was cited by Maronite
Patriarch as a crucial precondition for national coexistence.
25 Feb 98:
minister's consultations on the socio-economic crisis in full swing, interior
minister Michel Murr declared that a return of the displaced would take five
years to complete.
He spoke on ways to finance a LL 150 billion rural
development plan, proposed salary scales as well as the issue of the
26 Feb 98: Jumblatt responded
to a request by the prime minister for a plan to complete the return of the
displaced with a curt reminder that the government already had the