The Cabinet on Thursday appointed 71 new members on the Economic and Social Council of Lebanon, reviving it after 15 years of suspension.
“This phase is an economic phase and we are all aware of the economic and social concerns,” Prime Minister Saad Hariri said during the session.
Information Minister Melhem Riachi announced after the session that the Council will comprise 12 women representing 17% of the total number of members.
“The eldest member will call for the election of the council’s bureau, which in turn would elect a chairperson and a deputy chairperson, while the government will appoint a secretary-general for the council,” Riachi added.
Al-Jadeed television said the ministers Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Ali Qansou, Avedis Guidanian and Jean Oghassabian voiced objections over the council’s appointments.
According to al-Akhbar newspaper, an agreement has been reached to appoint Charles Arbid as the secretary-general of the council. Arbid has good ties with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser, Nader Hariri, the daily said.
According to a mission statement published on the council’s English-language website, the council is tasked with “prompting inter dialogue, cooperation and coordination between various economic, social and vocational sectors.” It comprises 71 members “representing all sectors, associations, syndicates, vocational and expatriate institutions.”
Separately, the Cabinet approved the funding necessary for organizing the upcoming parliamentary elections, with Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh decrying that “this will be the most expensive vote in the world.”
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq meanwhile defended the resolution, saying every earmarked amount of money is justified and necessary.