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Number of municipalities

The number of municipalities has been growing by the month until it reached 1000 by the end of April 2013. During the most recent municipal elections in May 2010, the number of municipalities stood at 964 compared to 904 in the 1998 elections. Establishment of municipalities boomed mostly in the Qada’a of Akkar and that of Baalbeck, while there was stability in the number of municipalities in the Aqdiyah of Baabda, Zgharta, Koura, Rashaya and Marjeyoun. Table 1 illustrates the distribution of municipalities by Mohafazah/Qada’a.

Distribution of Municipalities by Mohafazah and Qada’a

Table 1

Mohafaza/Qada’a

No. of municipalities in 1998

No. of municipalities end of April 2013

No. of towns and villages

Mohafazah of Mount-Lebanon

304

318

480

Chouf

72

74

96

Aley

55

57

72

Baabda

45

45

63

Kessrouan

48

52

70

Matn

48

53

96

Jbeil

36

37

83

Mohafazah of North-Lebanon

212

261

385

Tripoli

3

3

3

Batroun

22

27

67

Bsharri

11

12

21

Zgharta

31

31

50

Akkar

86

121

148

Mennieh-Dennieh

25

33

51

Koura

34

34

45

Mohafazah of Beqa’a

139

159

236

Baalbeck

53

66

103

Hermel

4

7

32

Rashaya

26

26

26

Zahle

28

29

40

Western Beqa’a

28

31

35

Mohafazah of South-Lebanon

133

144

176

Saida

42

47

53

Tyre

56

61

68

Jezzine

35

36

55

Mohafazah of Nabatieh

115

117

131

Nabatieh

38

39

41

Marjeyoun

26

26

33

Hasbaya

15

16

21

Bint Jbeil

36

36

36

Mohafazah of Beirut

1

1

1

Total

904

1,000

1,409

Source: Compiled by Information International based on decisions issued by the Ministers of Interior and Municipalities.

According to the table above, there remain 409 towns lacking local governments in Lebanon. While all the towns in the Aqdiyah of Rashaya, Bint Jbeil and Tripoli and the overwhelming majority of those in the Aqdiyah of Western Beqa’a, Saida, Tyre, Nabatieh, Hasbaya and Marjeyoun are entitled to self-governing local entities, the presence of municipal councils is less evident in the Aqdiyah of Jbeil, Matn, Batroun, Zgharta, Akkar and Hermel.

Revenues of the Independent Municipal Fund

The Lebanese government collects fees on imports and fuel and deposits them into the IMF for distribution to municipalities in line with specific criteria. The amount of the IMF transfers varies from one year to the next as illustrated in the following Table 2 and the funds are often delayed for years and disbursed in installments after deducting the amounts due to Sukleen and amounting to 40% of the revenues of municipalities benefitting from Sukleen’s waste collection services.

Evolution of the IMF transfers (1996-2010)

Table 2

Year

Transfers (LBP billion)

1996

51

1997

190

1998-1999

400

2000

100

2001

200

2002

200

2003

250

2004

200

2005

220

2006

290

2007

280

2008

300

2009

400

2010

468

Source: Distributional decrees as published in the Official Gazette in the respective years (NB: the distributional decree for 2011 was issued on April 13, 2013)

Distribution criteria

Decree No. 1917 issued on April 6, 1979 and its amendments specified the criteria for distribution of the IMF funds. The 2012 IMF funds were divided as follows:

1. LBP 56.160 billion or 12% were allocated to municipal unions and were in turn assigned as follows:

  • 60% based on registered population within the union
  • 40% based on the number of municipalities within each union for development projects

2. LBP 411.8 billion or 88% were allocated to municipalities and were in turn assigned as follows:

  • 5% or LBP 20.5 billion for the Civil Defense Independent Fund
  • The remaining LBP 391.2 billion were further divided as follows:
  • 90% based on registered population (78%) and the actual direct revenues collected by municipalities during the two years prior to distribution (22%)
  • 10% were distributed equally to the municipalities having no more than 4000 registered people for the purpose of development projects.

Shares of municipalities

The share that each municipality receives from the IMF differs according to the rules mentioned previously. Tripoli ranks second to Beirut 1 among the municipalities privileged with the largest transfers. The following Table 3 illustrates the major allocations channeled to municipalities in 2010:

Distribution of major shares by municipality in 2010

Table 3

Municipality

Share (LBP billion)

Beirut

67

Tripoli

16.9

Zahle

5.9

Saida

5.5

Ghobeiry

4.6

Jdaideh

4

Mina

3.9

Burj Hamoud

3.7

Baalbeck

3.1

Tyre

2.9

Jounieh

2.4

Source: Official Gazette No.3/2012

The shares by Qada’a are illustrated in Table 4, with the Qada’a of Matn having the largest amount (LBP 25 billion), followed by Tripoli (LBP 21.2 billion). The smallest shares were allocated to Hermel and Bsharri with LBP 3.1 billion and LBP 3.3 billion respectively.

Distribution of shares by Mohafazah/Qada’a

Table 4

Aqdiyah

Share (LBP billion)

Matn

25.018

Kessrouan

12.245

Jbeil

6.237

Baabda

21.436

Aley

11.7

Chouf

16.1

Total shares of the Mohafazah of Mount Lebanon

92.826

Tripoli

21.270

Batroun

4.671

Koura

4.850

Mennieh-Dennieh

84.753

Akkar

21.570

Zgharta

5.406

Bsharri

3.301

Total shares of the Mohafazah of North Lebanon

69.821

Zahle

14.556

Baalbeck

21.564

Hermel

3.107

Western Beqa’a

7.500

Rashaya

3.760

Total shares of the Mohafazah of Beqa’a

50.487

Saida

14.847

Jezzine

4.014

Tyre

15.483

Total shares of the Mohafazah of South Lebanon

34.704

Nabatieh

12.184

Bint Jbeil

12.052

Hasbaya

3.663

Marjeyoun

9.424

Total shares of the Mohafazah of Nabatieh

37.323

Source: Official Gazette No.3/2012

Municipalities’ shares of telecom revenues

In January 2013, Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui announced that the Cabinet had agreed to distribute the municipalities’ shares of the telecom revenues (10% of mobile phone bills) after the government had been withholding them for 20 years. The revenues estimated at USD 1.2 billion are distributed as follows: 80% is channeled based on the registered population of each municipality and 20% based on the residing population.

This move will provide additional resources that municipalities should employ to initiate real development projects instead of wasting funds to create employment and pay uncalled-for salaries to serve political and electoral interests.

Despite the shares they receive from the IMF and the telecom and water revenues, and the fees they charge on building permits, most municipalities are still lacking adequate and efficient development plans, and their financial resources can hardly pay municipal employees. So was the expansion in the establishment of municipalities a squandering of funds or were the municipalities responsible for scattering the dreams of development? 



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