Hariri: Smugglers will be brought to justice

The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said that smuggling is a real problem and the government is working seriously to close all illegal crossings. He announced that "soon the Lebanese will hear that a large number of smugglers, whether state employees or traders, are brought to justice", adding that the judiciary today is much better than it was in the past, and there will be no interventions in favor of the smugglers who will be arrested.

Hariri was addressing this afternoon the participants in the Lebanon Agriculture Development Conference 2019, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Economic Office at the Council of Ministers, the Union of Agricultural Syndicates and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Lebanon, in cooperation with Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal, at the Phoenicia Hotel.

He said: "There is no doubt that the state is not doing enough for the agricultural sector and the main problem is that the policy of agriculture is floundering. There is no clear strategy for the farmer to know what crops he should focus on so that they are an added value to what is found in neighboring and distant countries. The government problem is that it does not help farmers achieve these specifications." He added that the government is ready to support the agriculture that gives the country and the farmers an added value, and said that the government is working on a project with the ministries of finance and agriculture to complete the assessment of Lebanese lands, especially agricultural ones.

He said: "This sector cannot wait anymore for an integrated strategy, and we cannot go halfway and then stop. The strategy must be integrated in everything we do today, whether in electricity, telecommunications, agriculture or industry. Closing our markets to some foreign products is closing on ourselves, because this prevents us from exporting our products to these countries. There are already some free trade agreements that need to be reviewed, but there is a workshop that will take place at the Grand Serail, organized by the ministry of agriculture with FAO and the World Bank, to establish a strategy for the sector as part of the McKinsey Study. Some infrastructure is lacking, but the advantage we have today is the projects approved at the CEDRE Conference, which will advance the agricultural sector and its infrastructure in all Lebanese regions, which will develop various other sectors. In CEDRE, there is funding for all projects from A to Z in an integrated manner.

Last week, I had a meeting with the interior and defense ministers and all the military and customs leaderships about smuggling. Smuggling is a real problem. For example, with the start of the war in Syria in 2012, our smuggling dropped to 2 percent. Now that things in Syria calmed down, smuggling has risen again to 30 and 40%, which is unacceptable, so we held these meetings and are working to close all illegal crossings. The government will approve the issue of scanners and other detectors to focus on all land, sea and air ports."

Hariri concluded by noting that the proposals that will come out of this conference will be discussed, and most of them should be part of the plan to be adopted by the government in the field of agriculture. We have to develop ourselves, and this conference is one of the ways to develop, in order to reach solutions to the problems facing the agriculture sector in Lebanon, and to develop an integrated strategy for the promotion of agriculture, and thus the economy.

Source: National News Agency