On the 15th of this month, less than ten days ago, the Council of Ministers approved financial appropriations worth 320 billion pounds to cover the expenses of the parliamentary elections, equivalent to 15 million and 500 thousand dollars, and 4 million dollars of this amount were allocated to the expenses of elections abroad. The 4 million is supposed to cover all election expenses, including polling station rents.
But the scandal is that some embassies, especially in countries where the number of registered people exceeds thousands. Embassies have started asking expatriates for financial donations to be able to vote. This is what happening in Canada, for example. Informed sources revealed to Sawt Beirut International that the general consul there requested a meeting on Wednesday with a number of Lebanese party representatives and the head of the businessmen chamber. The Consul informed the attendees that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed him that there are no funds to rent polling stations.
It is known that the cost of renting, according to the study prepared by the embassy, is about 34,000 dollars, and that the number of polling stations required, according to the number of people registered in Canada, is 40, but half of them can be secured for free. What is worse is that the Consul, who was speaking on behalf of the Lebanese state represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did not seem confident that the other costs would be secured, when he was decisive that the instructions he received from Lebanon stated that there was no money for rent.
He asked for the help of the Lebanese, but not through the parties so that it would not be said that the parties are financing the elections abroad, as he said, and when one of the participants in the meeting asked him why not go directly to the able businessmen, since one of them can take care of the rent of the polling stations, the consul replied: I tried to contact them and was surprised by one answer that most of them repeated: “Give us our money back and we’ll pay you.”
What happened in Canada was also repeated in the United States of America, where some of the centers were secured so far in Washington, either free of charge or through donations from Lebanese businessmen there, without having yet secured a rental allowance for polling stations in New York, Boston and other cities where rents are very high.
I mean, after all of the above, we ask, where are the 4 million dollars approved by the Council of Ministers? Could the announcement of opening credits for election expenses be just an announcement to respond only to the statement of the International Support Group, which asked the Lebanese government about the preparations for the elections? Is there a new chapter to not let the expatriates’ elect?