Yesterday, Lebanon reneged on a contract to expand Beirut International Airport, after it sparked controversy about its legality and transparency, while the Lebanese security prevented a number of protesters against the deteriorating living conditions from storming the Central Bank of Lebanon.
In detail, the Lebanese Ministry of Public Works and Transport yesterday retracted a contract to expand Beirut International Airport, after it sparked controversy about its legality and transparency.
And the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Ali Hamiyah, announced in a tweet that “despite the importance of the project to construct the new terminal for travelers, and in the wake of the legal controversy taking place in the country … and to resolve the difference in viewpoints, I announced it with all courage not to proceed with the contract and consider it as if it does not exist.”
Hamiyah preempted a meeting of the Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water Committee in Parliament, which was devoted to discussing the contract for the expansion of Rafic Hariri International Airport, the only passenger airport in Lebanon, which has not witnessed any expansion projects since it ended in 1998 with a huge rehabilitation workshop.
Hamiyah announced last week the conclusion of a contract for the construction of a new terminal for passengers at the airport after “attracting financing, investment and operation from abroad … without the public treasury bearing any burdens.”
The Ministry concluded with the Lebanese Air Transport Company (LAT), which has been operating at Beirut Airport for decades, an agreement to “finance the entire components of the project”, at a value of $ 122 million, provided that a company owned by the Government of Ireland will operate the new building for a period of 25 years.
The move sparked criticism of deputies and non-governmental organizations, especially in terms of reaching a consensual agreement inconsistent with the Public Procurement Law issued in 2021, and some questioned the authority of a caretaker government to decide on contracts of this magnitude.
Ten non-governmental organizations, including Transparency International-Lebanon, said that the aim of the new public procurement law was to “put an end to long-standing practices of non-transparent contracts and useless spending,” noting that the airport contract “occurred in violation of the law.”
The organizations warned of “serious abuses” in Lebanon in applying the law, “which opens the door to corruption and nepotism.”
On the other hand, the Lebanese security prevented a number of protesters against the deteriorating living conditions in the country, yesterday, from storming the Central Bank of Lebanon.
Protesters, who started a vigil earlier yesterday in Riad al-Solh Square, Beirut, to demand correction of public sector salaries, went to the Central Bank of Lebanon building on Hamra Street and tried to enter the building, and the security forces prevented them.
The vicinity of the Central Bank of Lebanon witnessed security reinforcements, as a large force of the Lebanese army and riot police arrived and worked to secure protection for all entrances to the Central Bank.
The protesters blocked the road in front of the Banque du Liban, and a stampede occurred between the protesters and the security forces when the protesters tried to approach the entrance to the bank.
The protesters considered that the Governor of the Banque du Liban is a partner with the political authority and responsible for the situation in Lebanon.
Hundreds of Lebanese held a vigil in downtown Beirut to demand correction of public sector salaries in light of the collapse of the national currency against the dollar.
Retired military personnel, public sector retirees and other citizens affected by the collapse of purchasing power participated in the vigil.
And the security forces reinforced the protection measures for both the Parliament and the Grand Serail with barbed wire, amid a heavy security deployment of the Lebanese army, security forces and riot police.
A number of protesters carried Lebanese flags and flags of the Lebanese army, and raised banners denouncing and condemning those responsible for the stifling and disastrous economic, financial and living conditions.
• The security forces reinforce the protection measures for the Parliament and the Grand Serail with barbed wire, amidst a heavy security deployment of the Lebanese army.