1. Why the project is called “Afa’al” and what does it mean?
“Afa’al” is the acronym of the Arabic whole project’s title “Eliminating poverty and extreme need in Lebanon”.
2. The campaign indicates fund raising while we don’t have money?
The project’s cost is insured in the Ministry of Social Affairs’ budget.
3. How will the extreme poverty’s project be funded?
The funding will be from the state’s budget, and specifically from the Ministry of Social Affairs’. Several measures can be taken to reduce wasted sources and corruption previously mentioned which is multiplied compared to the project’s cost.
4. How was the 5% for operating expenses calculated?
This percentage is from the proposed law in 2014 which adopted theoretically IDAL budget as first approximation.
5. What are the programs that could help poor people, and are they enough?
There are several existing programs to ensure nutrition and waive fees such as school registration, books, hospitalization (such the National Program for Supporting the Poorest Families), and others. On one hand, these programs alone are not sufficient to move out of extreme poverty; on the other hand they are not sustainable given the fact that they rely on external assistance. The budget only allocates 4 million dollars to the National Program for Supporting the Poorest Families, which is a shame.
6. Poor people receive assistance and donations from non-governmental and international organizations; shouldn’t the state have other priorities?
On the contrary, poor people should be the government’s priority; even if non-governmental organizations are taking the lead in supporting them, however, this shouldn’t be the norm. Any individual has the right to a decent living in their country, and since poverty threatens the individual’s safety, dignity, social security and stability, therefore, the government is the sole responsible for fighting poverty. In addition, international assistance is not sustainable and varies from one year to another. Enhancing nutrition and school enrolment shouldn’t be interrupted in order to reach desired results.
7. There is a discrepancy in rating extreme poverty between the United Nations (6,000 LBP) and the World Bank (8,600 LBP), why did you choose the higher number?
In fact, the criteria for the classification of extreme poverty or the drawing of the poverty line and the extreme poverty line differ in time and space and among organizations according to the criteria adopted. What has been applied for years is no longer valid today and what is valid in Lebanon today is not applicable in another country.
The reason why we relied on the World Bank figures, not the United Nations, is due to the fact that after the war in July 2006 several conferences for donor countries, including the Paris III conference, were held in 2007 and the Lebanese government received a donation from the World Bank, the Canadian and the Italian governments to finance the project supporting the implementation of the “Emergency Social Safety Net”. Under the social sector article, the National Social Safety Net has emerged and, consequently, the National Program for Supporting the Poorest Families, which was launched on 17 October 2011. The program’s management is partially funded by the World Bank and its services are funded by the Lebanese Government. “Afa’al” law will complement this project by developing and making it sustainable.
8. The value of 8,500 LBP varies according to regions (Beirut, Bekaa and North), how will poverty indicators be determined?
The purchasing value of a certain amount of money varies, so do prices from a region to another, but this does not negate the fact that residents in distant areas such as the North and the Bekaa, for example, spend more on transportation than on food and clothing. The value of 8,500 LBP Daily per capita is a figure set by the World Bank.
9. Are there any incentives, such as tax exemptions, that encourage employers to hire a family breadwinner in extreme poverty?
In the current law no, but such incentives can be used in advanced stages. First, we want to take into account the immediate danger, extreme poverty and the status of the treasury.
10. What are the exemptions given to the poor people by the state?
At this point, nothing.
11. Once the family breadwinner training ends, what guarantees that he will find a job?
There is a constant demand for technical professions in enterprises and factories that sometimes have to hire professionals from abroad. For example, Minister of Industry Wael Abou Faour said, after meeting with a delegation from the Industrialists' Association headed by Fadi Gemayel, that the Ministry and the Association conducted a preliminary survey of a number of jobs in the Lebanese industries, and 3850 job vacancies has been counted in the industrial sector so far.
12. “Afa’al" law focuses on education no doubt, but how is this project expected to be beneficial, given the low quality of public education in Lebanon?
Public education in Lebanon is not as bad as some people think. The educational system may need to be developed and modified, especially in programming, informatics and history, but this does not eliminate the power of the joint education system between private and public schools. One of the best examples on the strength and effectiveness of the education system is the presence of public school pupils on national honor lists in the Brevet and baccalaureate classes’ official exams.
13. If the breadwinner is already working, are there any conditions to the type and nature of his/her job?
The implementation decrees annexed to the law note the establishment of a joint committee between the Ministries of Social Affairs and Education. It determines the productive and non-dangerous professions and the professions by which the breadwinner is considered eligible for the second requirement, namely training. The family benefiting from”Afa’al” may have met the two pre-requisites and would benefit as any other family.
14. What are the guarantees that poor people will exclusively be the beneficiaries of “Afa’al” law’s implementation, and that things will not be done the Lebanese way wasting the funds?
The law raises the possibility of the state contracting with an external entity to monitor the proper implementation of the project. The Lebanese National Bloc Party will also oversee law enforcement as much as possible.
15. There is a lack of confidence in oversight bodies, how can this issue be addressed so that the project does not become a new pipe of corruption?
No one can assert that the implementation will be complete, and the project notes the possibility of using independent institutions to review the application of the law.
16. Who is the third party that will follow the implementation of this law?
The World Bank first then the auditor of the program.
17. How to make sure that an individual lives on less than $5.7 a day?
Assessment is not based solely on intake, because it cannot be accurately determined. Individuals living under the poverty line often work in the parallel (informal) economy and their wages are fluctuating, and are not registered or authorized in the relevant departments.
Therefore, the Ministry of Social Affairs uses a designed mechanism to assess the situation of extreme poverty and is composed of several indicators: the quality of housing, heating means, connection to the water network, system of wastewater trawling, and school enrolment… etc.
18. Is $150 enough to get these people out of poverty?
This amount is enough to get them out of extreme poverty, and more importantly to get them out of the deadly cycle they are in, and their situation will gradually improve to get out of poverty later on. We recognize that $150 is not enough to get out of poverty. The objective of cash transfers is to give families living under the poverty line a financial incentive not to get their children out of school. The $150 is close to the small amounts children take for their work at an early age.
19. Do you really think that families will implement the prerequisite for funding by educating their children (and give away the amount secured by child labor)?
The proposed financial assistance outweighs the small amounts of child labor that is already against the law.
20. If children are schooled would they find a job while half of the country is unemployed?
First, allow us to remind everyone that education is mandatory in Lebanon at least in its early stages and this is the right thing. There is a constant demand for technical professions in enterprises and factories that sometimes have to hire professionals from abroad. For example, Minister of Industry Wael Abou Faour said, after meeting with a delegation from the Industrialists' Association headed by Fadi Gemayel, that the Ministry and the Association conducted a preliminary survey of a number of jobs in the Lebanese industries, and 3850 job vacancies has been counted in the industrial sector so far.
21. Linking the subject to prestige and to which extend Lebanese are willing to go and ask for help?
In extreme poverty the citizen pleads to the leader which is sort of humiliating in seeking help; whereas seeking help from government is a citizen’s right and does not affect any dignity. In addition, those who are in extreme poverty are not looking at any help in terms of appearances or prestige.
22. Why this law hasn’t passed before?
Other parties didn’t consider it as an emergency or priority, so they rejected it but not publically.
23. What did you learn from the proposal of the bill draft the first time and what has changed since then?
Parties’ indifference obliged us to launch a national campaign, an advocacy campaign to urge citizens to put pressure on their deputies.
24. What are the amendments on the bill draft presented in 2014?
Increase in amount equivalent to 11% of the minimum per child for more than three children per family. The entire budget of the project is noted in the budget of the Ministry of Social Affairs and does not rely only on external circumstantial assistance, which makes this project a public policy qualifying it of sustainable.
25. What are the awareness programs included in this project?
The programs are currently underway in the Ministry of Social Affairs, as well as partner organizations and associations. “Afa’al” is itself also an awareness project.
26. Why are the beneficiaries exclusively Lebanese, noting that Palestinian refugees and displaced Syrians are living under the poverty line?
There are various assistance programs from international organizations such as UNRWA, UNHCR and the European Union, and from Arab and foreign countries for these groups.
27. Public teachers receive scholarships to help them enroll their children in private schools. How can this issue be addressed?
This is wrong information. The benefits of public employees’ cooperative, not just teachers, provide support to public employees by covering part of the tuition fees in private schools or the full tuition fees in public schools. These benefits last until the child is 21 years. The percentage of covered tuition fees decreases as the number of siblings increases.
28. The country is on the edge of an economic collapse. Isn’t it better for the state to undertake development projects for poor people instead of financial aids?
Development projects for the poor people require a certain period of time to produce the desired result, while financial assistance gives immediate effect when we are in an emergency situation.
29. If a 12 year old child is illiterate while enrolled in the second grade. How can this project be applicable in this case?
This project has several mechanisms among which are school procedures taking into consideration educational retardation.
30. How are dangerous and non-dangerous professions determined?
In order to address this topic, the law notes the establishment of a joint committee between the Ministries of Social Affairs and Education.
31. In case of polygamy, is this law applicable on more than one wife?
32. This project has been implemented in more than 60 countries. Is it possible to know in which countries it failed, so we can learn from their mistakes?
Yes, and we studied the cases of these countries. In order to retrieve the information, please contact the party’s studies board.
33. You are a political party yet act as a non-governmental organization concerned about social issues?
First, as a party, we have as a priority the human dignity. Our political perseverance aims at reaching power to serve this priority.
Secondly, we would like to remind everyone that when parties put in their list of priorities disputes over regional issues, they have then forgotten the true meaning of politics which is serving country and citizens.
34. What is the party’s role in this respect; will it oversee the implementation of the law?
The party will of course be overseeing as per usual the administration’s activities and will work with civil society organizations to achieve this objective.
35. Why did the National Bloc Party first start with the project on extreme poverty, and is the youth interested in this issue?
Extreme poverty is an emergency, and we, as a party, consider human dignity as our priority. In addition, there are priorities in life; there are 235,000 citizens, or 5% of the population, who suffer from extreme poverty. A whole generation will be lost, and we are able to address the problem. As such, it was our choice and our priority.
36. How will you promote the campaign to reach those under the poverty line who are not following the news?
Through social media, giant posters on the roads, media outlets and volunteers.