| 5 February 2023, Sunday |

President gives directives to follow-up on Lebanese University dossier

President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, received Social Affairs’ Minister, Dr. Hector Hajjar, today at the Presidential Palace.

Minister Hajjar expressed hope that Lebanon would define the entity which should monitor and follow-up on the disbursement of funds it receives from non-governmental organizations, in light of the initiative launched by President Aoun, “So that we can stop using social work in political affairs”.

“President Aoun’s heart is with the people, and their difficult situation” Minister Hajjar asserted.

In addition, the Social Affairs’ Minister emphasized working to find legal solutions to issue the financing card, pointing to a solution to enable the employees of development services centers to receive their salaries and proceed with their efforts to give them the grant on their salaries, “Which is their right”.

After the meeting, Minister Hajjar said in a statement: “We addressed ministerial affairs with His Excellency, the President, in addition to the situation of employees and associations and the financing card. I listened to His Excellency’s directives, our opinions were identical, especially since the President’s heart is with the people in current difficult conditions. We also developed a plan so that we can move as quickly as possible to issue the financing card”.

Responding to a question about what hinders the launch of the financing card, and about solutions targeting middle-income citizens, Minister Hajjar replied “The financing card follows a legal path, part of which is the Ministry of Social Affairs and the other part has nothing to do with the Ministry. We must respect the institutions through which matters must pass. As for middle-income individuals, there is no doubt that the middle class has become the most in need today, and they are also included in the financing card. This card, which includes 500,000 families, is not intended for the poorest families, as there are two other cards for this category. This card targets families who get salaries which have become unaffordable today. We are following up and working 24 hours a day to finish this task”.

Concerning the timing of issuance of these cards, Minister Hajjar said “I discussed this issue with His Excellency the President and participated yesterday with the Prime Minister in a meeting about it, but we all know that we are at a time when the Parliament and the Cabinet do not meet. Hence, we are working to find legal solutions because we do not want to make exceptional solutions that you may not be able to find a way out at a later time with donor institutions or those that will lend us money”.

Asked about monitoring the disbursement  of funds received from NGOs, Minister Hajjar stated “I receive several complaints on this subject daily and perhaps we need to determine who should monitor the disbursement of funds, especially since complaints increase as we approach the elections. God willing, in light of the initiative launched by His Excellency the President today, we will be able to determine the party which should follow-up on this matter so that we can stop using social action in political matters”.

Regarding the slowness in the ministry’s service centers, Hajjar replied: “We have a very big problem in the development services centers. But we have to know that these people somewhere are oppressed, so how can they operate these centers with a very limited budget, and they have no money. We should also know that all employees in development services centers and emerging projects have not received their dues for six months. We do not want to discuss the reasons and the responsibility, but since the first day I have been working diligently to solve this problem and start receiving their salaries. Is it reasonable today for employees who do not receive their salaries to come to their workplaces, how will they come, and with what money? Today, we are in the last step, and I can say that we have resolved this issue so that they can start receiving their dues, and they should not only be paid, as you know they suffer from the problem of receiving salaries as they suffer from the problem of the grant on the salaries that the state confiscated and refuses to give them. From here, we have two problems. How can we ask an employee to come to work with a tank of fuel, you know how much it cost, and he has not been paid for six months?

I am not saying that the service centers we are targeting do not have problems and confusion, but we cannot say on the other hand that they are all problems and confusion, because their employees have become among the poorest. I have started visiting these centers and will continue the visits next week, and there are centers, for example, in the heart of the capital that do not have the capabilities to pay the dues of the electric motor, and here I do not want to talk about the ministry, which suffers from confusion in operating the motor according to the price of the dollar as well.

We have problems, of course, and we should not only hold the employees responsible, we bear these problems together and we must find solutions that I devote myself to finding. Here, I reassure the employees in the service centers and the pop-up projects that the solution is ready and they will receive their salaries, and that we are working on the issue of the grant, which we have not reached a conclusion about yet, but I have consulted with all fellow ministers and with the Prime Minister and His Excellency the President so that they can obtain this grant because it is their right, especially since they entered their jobs through the Civil Service Council matches and they have been working for years. We are discussing this issue and, God willing, we will hold a meeting tomorrow with the Minister of Labor to finalize this file”.


  • NNA