The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri sponsored today at the Grand Serail the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Lebanese State, the Lebanese Order of Engineers and Architects and the Lebanese Contractors Syndicate for Public Works and Buildings, to launch the Unified Electronic Systems Project to classify contractors.
Ministers Youssef Fenianos and Mohamed Choucair, and a number of MPs, members of the Engineers' orders in Beirut and the north and contractors, attended the ceremony.
The head of the Lebanese Contractors Syndicate Maroun El Helou said:
"Our meeting today goes farther than signing a memorandum of understanding between the Lebanese State, the Engineers order and the Contractors' syndicate. It is an act of faith in Lebanon and entrepreneurship in Lebanon. We, engineers and architects, literally build the country and aspire to contribute in building its economy and development".
He emphasized that the project will apply unified norms in all ministries and administrations to classify all contractors and consultants, through a software and without the intervention of any official.
He added that other projects should be adopted later on to ensure more professionalism in this field.
Then the head of the order of engineers in the north, Bassam Ziade, said:
The engineer is not only concerned with reconstruction and investments, but can also develop strategies for development.
He said that the classification of contractors is done is most ministries in application of a text that is 53 years old. He added: "We are launching the most important engineering reform project in Lebanon's history, the Electronic Classification System. It will establish the concept of optimal transparency, ensure equality in evaluation and ensure quality standards in engineering projects, which is the demand of the Prime Minister and the entire Lebanese society."
The head of the Federation of Lebanese Engineers Jad Tabet talked about the problems and difficulties faced by engineers in Lebanon, adding: "Today, we are witnessing an event that gives us hope that the decision has been taken to start interacting with syndicates and civil society and to consider them key partners in the policies of the state.
We hope that this experience will be repeated with us or with the other syndicates to promote the country, save it from collapsing and make it a productive economy that rebuilds the nation on sound foundations."
At the end of the ceremony, Prime Minister Hariri delivered the following speech:
"Our meeting is the beginning of a path to promote Lebanon, its economy, infrastructure, basic services and reforms, which are all in the government program that obtained a large confidence from Parliament and was launched.
One of the basic reforms that all the Lebanese ask for is transparency and ending brokering, presumed or real, under the pretext of granting projects.
At the beginning I would like to say that the interventions we heard from some MPs, and that we hear daily in the media, about fighting corruption in the administration, may give an impression to the public opinion that all the administration is corrupt, which is wrong and unfair.
There are many decent people who preserve the public money and the interest of citizens in all state administrations. As it is our duty to close the doors of corruption, it is our duty to do justice to the honest employees spend their lives serving the state and the citizens.
The step that we are taking today is a step towards transparency and standards. As long as the process of classification of companies, and their qualification to participate in projects, goes through many departments, and every department can set the standards it sees appropriate, doubt will remain for the international partners and the public opinion that there are procedures done through brokering or bribes.
The memorandum of understanding between the State, the Order of Engineers and the Syndicate of Contractors, aims at creating unified classification body, in which are represented all ministries, administration and councils that are allowed to grant engineering work or studies, as well as the Engineers Order and the Contractors' Syndicate.
This step ensures transparency, electronic control, and equality between all contractors and study offices, to avoid any interference with the classification process. It also unifies the official classification in all of Lebanon and guaranties quality norms.
This reformative step also prevents the emergence of monopolies. It came late. It was issued by Prime Minister Rafic Hariri by a decree in 2002 and was not applied although the decree of classification that is currently in force was issued in 1966, that is 53 years ago! It does not take into account the financial, technical and administrative capacities and expertise to categorize the contractor.
On this occasion, I would like to confirm to you that we are in the process of passing the Conditions Book draft law, which was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2007, because it is not reasonable that we are still working with a law issued in 1944, that is, 74 years ago!
Today I pledge that this step will be applied. It is a reform step within the CEDRE Conference reforms to ensure full transparency and integrity in granting all CEDRE projects and all Lebanese state projects from now on.
This is the administration that the Lebanese desire, a transparent administration, in which the contractor does not feel that there is political preferences between one contractor and another. We had the largest companies in Saudi Arabia, yet we could not work in all sectors and all engineers and contractors know that.
Congratulations to the government, the engineers, the contractors and to all the Lebanese, for this the first reform step. We intend as government and prime minister to follow it with reform steps in all sectors and all departments.
I would like to thank all the political forces and all the syndicates. This step confirms that we can carry out reforms as you saw and we can do so when we have the intention. I would like to thank everyone who worked hard for this memorandum. This is a success not only for Saad Hariri, but also for the work government and all its political parties".
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the end of the event, in the presence of Prime Minister Hariri.
Source: National News Agency