Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Wednesday stressed that the political settlement's outcome was expected from the start, describing it as the settlement of partitioning, deals and it violates the Constitution.
“We did not expect from this settlement other than an erroneous budget especially that we did not know how it was passed while everyone allegedly objected to it,” Gemayel said during the Parliament's legislative session.
“All those in the Cabinet who have voted in favor of the budget law are voting against it in the Parliament,” Gemayel declared.
“Everyone seems to disown the budget except for the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister; all the factions are turning it down and consider it futile,” Gemayel pointed out.
“If you have received all of these complaints against it, why didn’t you pass a budget that you do not criticize or simply propose a different one altogether?”
The Kataeb leader noted that they have noticed that there are three parliamentary groups: Ministers whose blocs defend their stances, ministers whose blocs denounces the budget yet votes in favor of it out of obligation and ministers whose blocs stand against what they have done and will vote against it.
“Had the government’s sessions been televised, would we have witnessed the same result?”
“There seems to be a new concept for democracy: an authority that doesn't account for its actions while worldwide an authority stands for bearing responsibility for its actions and for a united government,” he slammed.
“I am unsure of the premier’s impression today, especially that he is the only one defending the budget and answering for it,” he wondered.
“Is there any government official willing to account for his actions?”
“We have been truthful with ourselves and with the people. We did not take part in the government allocations because our understanding of democracy is based on principles,”
“We believe that the State rules and the opposition defies.”
“The problem is that what is happening goes against democracy that is based on accountability. How will the people hold officials accountable for the budget when the same political forces that approved the budget in the government, later objected to it in the Parliament?” he questioned.
“Violating the Constitution has become a trending approach as if the Constitution has turned into a burden to some and is being dealt with as such,” Gemayel deplored, highlighting that respecting the Constitution is being perceived as a holdup.
Gemayel pointed out that the audit of previous years' financial accounts is nonexistent and it was not coincidentally scheduled.
“The constitution exists for the sake of public order consigned to cover a one-year-period,” he noted.
“We are supposed to rely on financial accounts to assess the budget’s precision but that is unavailable in the absence of auditing of previous years’ accounts,” he indicated.
He explained that there is a striking violation of the Constitution as the budget covers a period of only six months while it should have covered one year, and given that the audit of previous years' financial accounts were not referred to the Parliament prior to the budget endorsement.
“A state budget had been drafted without a comprehensive economic vision and until now we haven’t grasped the government’s economic vision,” Gemayel stated, highlighting the problems of public debt, interest on public debt, unemployment and poverty.
The Kataeb leader denounced the contradictory budget proposal as imposing further taxes would the mean lesser earnings and would reduce revenues.
“Upon discussing the 2018 budget, the deficit was estimated $4.8 billion which we rejected then as we believed the actual deficit should’ve been $6.1 billion marking a 30% disparity,” Gemayel raised a question mark on the estimations.
Gemayel warned that the approved budget will lead to economic recession and stagnation, as well as inflation and increase in the unemployment rate.
“Inflation was estimated $1.75 billion and it turned out to be $6.1 billion, so which financial account should we rely on?”
“They are estimating the deficit to be $1.5 billion while all global rating agencies issued different numbers that indicate a negative economic growth,” he blasted.
The Kataeb leader slammed that covering up the truth does not make us responsible for this bottleneck and revealing the correct figures actually provides us with the courage to take exceptional measures to resolve the problem.
He listed seven puzzling issues he considers as wonders: The 3% added value on imported goods, harmful waste sea dumping practices for over 4 years, tax and customs’ evasion as well as illegal smuggling routes, banks’ subscription rights, delay in State's expenditures, fictitious hires and social security, hospitals’, and contract workers’ entitlement.
“The Lebanese people can no longer endure any more charades that renege on commitments. They need a bold move towards enforcing drastic measures,” Gemayel noted.
“Radical measures are exemplified when the State puts its authority and sovereignty in force. There is no economy without security and sovereignty. There won’t be a proper economy if we dragged the country into sanctions and other countries’ wars,” Gemayel blasted.
“Other necessary measures would be to safeguard the judiciary’s independence and support supervisory agencies to reduce tax and customs’ evasion,” he added.
Gemayel declared that the settlement generated an unusual formula that is incapable of implementing corrective measures.
“The solution is not in amending the budget but in producing a new pattern in political life’s dealings such as in dropping the political settlement which was supposed to protect the country and the people and develop the economy, second by the government’s resignation and third by launching early parliamentary elections,” he stated.
Gemayel stipulated those political blocs who will vote against the budget alike the Kataeb party to detach from Parliamentary blocs and for all opposing ministers to it to resign from the government in order to create an opposition front that generates a united government capable of provoking reforms.