The National Bloc estimates $2.789 billion worth of public fund waste, citizens should not pay the price

The Lebanese National Bloc Party has identified a number of public fund waste channels that, if curbed, could cover the cost of reforms that the government has committed to. The Bloc warned of the measures that the government is currently planning to implement will only harm the Lebanese people working in both the private and public sectors.  In its statement, the National Bloc asserted that the sources of waste of public funds are all documented based on reports by the Ministry of Finance as well as studies and opinions of recognized fiscal and economic entities.

$2.789 billion of public fund waste

The electricity sector: The Bloc suggested that converting electricity production from fuel to gas would immediately provide the treasury with an estimated 45% decrease of the current cost, or the equivalent of one billion dollars a year.

The port of Beirut unpaid fees, as well as large and small bribes, accumulate to almost $774 million annually.

Tax evasion: if half the value of tax evasion that is estimated at a minimum of $1.13 billion annually is collected, it will create $560 million annual revenue for the state treasury.

Debt interest: If the interest on state debt is reduced by half a point annually it would save $400 million in public debt service.

Random political favoritism employment: if this type of employment is decreased by 5,000 it would save the treasury $40 million.

Government Buildings: the reduction of rents of government buildings and departments by 10%, will save the treasury $15 million.

Thus, the total amount that the State can provide from applying the above-mentioned recommendations to about $2,789,000,000 (two billion and seven hundred and eighty-nine million USD)

Additional suggestions

The National Bloc Party has put forward some proposals that contribute to easing pressure on state finances and increasing imports:

Cars allocated to public employees: the number of cars allocated to government staff has reached about 12,000, at a total cost of an estimated at 120 million dollars, distributed among the vehicle price, fuel, and maintenance, as well as dedicated drivers.  The Bloc asked to determine whether there was any real need for this expense to ensure the proper running of government and called for the development of special legislation detailing the actual needs and ways to meet them.

Security personnel: The Bloc pointed out that returning the bulk of security personnel to their units instead of having them at the service of certain officials would save the state from hiring new security forces as replacements.

Government buildings: the Lebanese government pays $150 million in rent allowances for government buildings annually.  The Bloc suggests the construction of government and state buildings on state property with a cost $300 million, or the equivalent of only two years’ rent.

Importing oil derivatives: the Lebanese government does not import oil derivatives directly and therefore does not provide profits for importing companies. The fuel facilities in Beddawi and Zahrani are leased to the importing companies for this purpose.

Audit of the Audit Bureau

In conclusion, the National Bloc Party reviewed the National Audit Bureau reports.  This bureau has been able to generate these reports in spite of its weakened capabilities by the ruling political powers, who have not worked on enhancing its potential, leaving nearly half the positions needed to run it properly vacant.  According to the National Audit Bureau report 2,076 transactions were submitted for approval in 2014.  1507 transactions received approval while 1069 did not receive approval, or received conditional approval due to irregularities or omissions.  In 2014 the National Audit Bureau reported discounts on ministerial and municipal transactions $6.8 million, in 2015 the number had increased to $8.43 million.  It is worthy to note that these figures were prepared by a weakened National Audit Bureau that if strengthened to its full potential could play an effective role in monitoring the country’s financial state.

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