The Document of National Accord approved in Taif in 1989 stipulated the introduction of constitutional amendments to promote the capacities of the Prime Minister and urged a number of steps to be taken in the same respect such as the text requiring “the Cabinet to convene periodically in a special venue.”
Throughout the implementation of the Taif Accord, this measure was never put into practice and the Cabinet sessions were always held either at the Presidential Palace when the President wished to attend or chair the session or at the headquarters of the Prime Minister’s office when the President absented himself and the Prime Minister headed the session instead.
With the election of President Emile Lahhoud to the presidency of the republic and the appointment of PM Salim El-Hoss to chair the government at the end of 1998, this text was put into effect and the premises of the Lebanese University in the Mathaf area were selected to host the meetings of the Cabinet. The area was chosen because of its central location and the strict security measures applied due to its proximity to several Lebanese Army headquarters.
After the security turbulence and wave of assassinations that targeted Lebanon in 2005, the venue was relocated to the offices of the Social and Economic Council in Beirut’s Downtown.
When Michel Suleiman became President of the Lebanese Republic he cancelled, or rather halted the use of this venue and all meetings were taken outside for security reasons as justified by the decision to halt.
Upon choosing the Lebanese University building as a venue for the Cabinet meetings, credits exceeding LBP 1.5 billion were earmarked for this purpose.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport requested the provision of LBP 2.6 billion in order to reallocate the floors in the said building and renovate the premises.
The costs broke down as follows:
Maintenance of the building: LBP 2.1 billion
Technical equipment: LBP 880 million
Furniture and office supplies: LBP 600 million
Miscellaneous equipment: LBP 20 million
Although the government is not convening neither at the Presidential Palace where the presidential seat is vacant nor at the headquarters of the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is absurdly seeking credits to equip a venue for the Cabinet meetings!