Last September, Sawt Beirut International raised the issue of the diplomatic corps, specifically when it revealed in its news bulletin that the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, and the Central Council had discovered five ambassadors present in Lebanon and receiving salaries paid in dollars, and that these salaries had been halted at the time.
Three months later, this subject was brought back to the forefront after a new story emerged regarding an ambassador in Lebanon receiving a “fresh dollar” salary.
These incidents, along with the Lebanese government’s lack of dollar liquidity, opened the way for ambassadors and diplomatic missions from all over the world.
The overall budget of ambassadors is around $30 million per year, although ambassador wages vary per nation. Diplomats authorized in Africa have the lowest rates, while those accredited in Europe and Arab nations have the highest. There are 89 diplomatic missions and roughly 15 consulates. While the entire rent allowed for diplomats and embassies’ premises is around $13 million, certain rental prices can reach around $300,000 per year. In one of the nations, the aforementioned ambassador and his family live in a 1,500-square-meter residence with an office rental allowance that surpasses the appropriate limit. In one country, the ambassador’s entire monthly compensation is $70,000 USD. Ambassadors’ salaries range from a maximum of $30,000 per month to a minimum of $12,000 per month, in addition to the salaries of employees in embassies, and there are many employees in embassies who were appointed by politicians of all stripes in Lebanon, and it is difficult to exclude any ambassador or minister because they are politically protected. Among the expenditures are a chef budget for ambassadors and, on occasion, a garden guard allowance.
According to sources close to Sawt Beirut International, a workshop was launched at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reduce the number of embassies and diplomatic recognition abroad, particularly after the Banque du Liban informed the government that the only way to pay the salaries of ambassadors and diplomatic missions is through an exchange platform, i.e. deducting approximately 70% of its value, which enraged the Diplomatic Corps. Will Lebanon shut certain embassies? Yes, undoubtedly.