National Initiative - Open Discussions - session 4 - 24-11-2016
On the 24th of November 2016, in Monroe Hotel – Beirut, Civic Influence Hub held the fourth session of the National Initiative / Open Discussions that aims to build an integrated charter around the ambitions of the Lebanese Civic Society on all levels. More than 100 presidents and members of Union of Municipalities and Municipalities participated in the session in the presence of observers from the Civil Society Organizations, Economic Bodies and Syndicates of Professionals who participated in the first three sessions of the National Initiative / Open Discussions.

Elie Gebrayel
The session was initiated with a speech by CIH’s councilor and board member, Engineer Elie Gebrayel, who emphasized on the importance of the Open Discussion for Municipalities since it’s accompanied with the return of life of the state and its institutions in particular with the new Presidential Era that is characterized with a National United will to recover from the collapsing path and launch the process of stability, prosperity and development. He added: "Since the municipal work is a fundamental element in the development process, and since the administrative decentralization is one of the headlines for this promising era, we hope that our words will be more noticeable than ever.”

Bachir Odeimi
Then, the Director of the Technical Office of Lebanese municipalities, Mr. Bashir Odeimi delivered a speech in which he mentioned that   municipal work constitutes the basic framework for the establishment of local development concepts of social, economic. Mr. Odeimi proposed to work on developing the human resources to overpasses its traditional role.”

Jamal Itani
The session that was moderated by the Councilors and Board of Directors’ members Eng. Elie Gebrayel and Dr. Mounir Yehia was initiated by a speech for Beirut Municipality’s President, Engineer Jamal Itani who emphasized on the Civic Society Movement that Lebanon witnessed last year and considered it a distinguished experience to learn a lesson from its mistakes and build on its positive results. In addition, he welcomed any suggestions for improvement from the civic society.

Mohamad Al Saoudi
The President of Saida – Zahrani Union of Municipalities and Saida Municiplaity, Mr. Mohamad Al Saoudi noted that the most critical problems facing Lebanon are electricity and waste. And he stated that Saida suffered a lot from the problem of solid waste since it has a mountain of waste that accumulated through 30 years and reached a height of 58 meters. In addition, the municipality highlighted the important and exceptional achievement in terms of solid waste management in Saida supported by UNDP.

Antoine Gebara
In his speech Mr. Antoine Gebara, President of Jdeideh – Baouchrieh – Sed, reminded that the first article in the Municipality Law states that the municipality has financial and administrative independence yet the search for this independence is still ongoing.
Yehia Bou Karroum
Then the President of Shouf Sweijeni Union of Municipalities stated that the chances of participation and change are higher for municipalities as opposed to central agencies since they deal directly with citizens’ concerns and needs.

 Khalil Harfouche
As for the President of Union of Jezzine Area Municipalities, Mr. Khalil Harfouche, he highlighted considerable achievement whereby a committee formed of 8 presidents of municipalities was established to develop a clear plan with the assistance of a consultancy company. This company had analytical studies for each sector concentrating on the problems facing the area like geological issues, soil, population distribution, forests, water etc.…”

Hussein Lakkis
In his turn, Brigadier General (Ret.) Hussein Lakkis, President of Baalback Municipality raised several legal problematics related to the municipal work and stressed on the decree law 118 which stated that the municipality is under the supervision and audit of the centralized authority knowing that the municipality is a moral entity having financial and administrative independence. This contradiction is a major impediment.

Hassan Hammoud
The vice president of the Union of Municipalities of Tyre, Mr. Hassan Hammoud, recalled that the first municipal elections after the war were held in 1998, and considered that "the experience of the post-war, averaged 18 years and took considerable time to be studied and evaluated.

Ghassan Tayyoun
In his speech, the vice president of Zgharta – Ehden Municipality spoke about the legal framework of the basic problems, precisely the obstacles and slow administrative process that result with massive complications hindering the municipality’s authority within the framework of the municipality law.

Issam Obeid
In his turn, Aley Municipality member, Mr. Issam Obeid noted that the municipality is the most familiar with the society needs since it’s the closest to the citizens and their necessities. In addition, he has noticed that the municipal work is becoming restricted to each municipality alone with all its services and ambitions which lead to have the municipalities as independent entities seeking success separately from neighboring municipalities that have similar aspirations.

Michel Khalife
Engineer Michel Khalife, Head of Engineer Department in Union of Jbeil Municipalities stated that the union includes 13 municipalities and it’s handling since 1983 several activities including the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, assistance in common projects for its members with technical support, management for house hold waste in all the district and setting mechanisms for waste collection and managing and operating Habalin waste management  Center  that is a hundred thousand square meters in space.
The final speech was for the chairman of CIH, Engineer Fahd Saccal who thanked all attendees for their participation and replied to the concern revolving the mechanisms that CIH will follow in the future. Accordingly the aim is to form a pressure group for reform unifying the civil society under one agenda.