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December 05, 2019
The Government Monitor No. 9 - Caretaker Government Issuing Too Many Licenses

What’s the Issue at Hand?
While people have been protesting since 17 October, 2019, the now-caretaker government has passed a number of decisions and decrees that have no bearing to the protesters’ demands. Reviewing the Official Gazette over this period shows that the government passed 147 legislative texts, of which 122 are decrees that require the signature of the Prime Minister (PM) and 25 are ministerial decisions.
The published texts remain largely administrative, similar to the period before the start of the protests: 131 are of administrative nature (90%),1 14 are regulatory measures (9%),2 and two are international agreements (1%).3
On the administrative side:
  • The rate at which licenses have been issued after the start of the protests has significantly increased. In fact, between 17 October and 20 November, the government issued 73 licenses, which constitute more than half of the total licenses (141) given prior to the protests. Of these licenses, 68 were issued after the resignation of the PM, the majority of which were given to small and medium-sized enterprises (84%), and more specifically businesses that deal with hunting weapons and ammunition trade.
  • In addition, 24 decrees (18%) were approvals of citizenship requests, compared to 27 prior to the protests.
  • Other administrative decisions include budget reserve financial transfers (10) and municipal committee appointments (7). 
On the regulatory side:
  • Out of the 14 regulatory measures, 10 were related to taxation (71%) mainly extensions of tax submission deadlines.
  • One measure was related to infrastructure projects, specifically the establishment of a sewer pumping station in the Keserwan district.
  • None of the reform measures presented by Hariri on 21 October materialized.
On international agreements:
Two memorandums of understanding were signed after the government’s resignation.
  • The first involved the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, which pertains to the provision and improvement of public services for Syrian refugees hosted in Lebanon.
  • The second was between the Council for Development and Reconstruction and an Italian construction firm (Research Consorzio Stabile Societa’ Consortile A R.L.), regarding the inclusion of an arbitration clause in their contract.
Why is this Important?
Since the protests began, the Lebanese government has done very little to respond to the people’s concerns. The country now lacks a functioning government after the resignation of PM Hariri, while the caretaker one seems to be preoccupied with issuing licenses.
The Lebanese people have taken to the streets demanding a series of serious political and economic reforms, including guaranteeing accountability, political representation, socio-economic conditions, civil rights, and public services, as well as abolishing sectarianism. As a result of the mounting pressure, Hariri’s government resigned, and parliamentary deliberations for appointing a new PM are yet to be initiated.
1 Administrative measures apply existing rules and procedures to individuals or organizations.
2 Regulatory measures entail the application or establishment of an impersonal, generally applicable rule.
3 International agreements contain the approval of foreign loans, foreign grants, and memorandums of understanding.

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