Why AFAAL was Buried by Political Considerations
MP Robert Fadel, currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Lebanese National Bloc Party, presented in 2014 a bill draft of repetitive and accelerated law entitled “Afaal” aiming to eliminate extreme poverty conditions in Lebanon. At the time of proposal, MP Fadel warned that the poorest regions are the most unstable; therefore the program “Afaal” aims at helping the poorest families giving them hope for a better future. He also highlighted that this program’s proposal is at the disposal of the Ministry of Social Affairs and requires support of all political and parliamentary parties for it to be endorsed by parliament.
Nonetheless, gains and losses’ considerations of some parties resulted in burying this program in the committees’ graveyard. First, it was ripped the status of urgency, then it was referred for study to the finance and budget’s sub-committee. The sub-committee was composed of MP Yassin Jaber, serving as president, and MP Robert Fadel and MP Henri Helo as members.
In 5 April 2016, under the patronage of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and from his residency, “Afaal” law support campaign was launched. During the launching, MP Fadel asked a fundamental question: who is preventing the endorsement of this law? MP Fadel considered that it was clear by then that some leaderships are uninterested in eliminating extreme poverty or are at least not setting the topic among their priorities. In the same context, MP Fadel numerated several reasons for this program’s delay among which is the funding that requires a small reduction of wasted sources - topic considered a taboo. Also, for some people this program gives 250,000 Lebanese the freedom from personal services and benefits provided by leaders and parties; as such, this program limits the manipulation and frees electoral voices.
In the same context, MP Fadel added that some leaderships are in denial as if poverty only touches a small portion of Lebanese or a certain cult or even a certain region. As for other leaderships, they consider that this proposal is presented by an independent parliament member which doesn’t count as being their achievement according to the narrow political game conditions.
MP Fadel confirmed then that “Afaal” law support campaign launching is only the beginning and will lead to its endorsement eventually. MP Fadel wished that the journey be quick and easy, stressing on the need for communication among all political parties to endorse this law as soon as possible, confirming that politics, nobly, is not merely words but actions.
Indeed, MP Fadel pursued his efforts, and in 16 May 2016, the sub-committee announced that it has finished the study of the proposal, after a session chaired by its president in presence of members and a number of experts, consultants and intended employees from different departments.
Once again, narrow political agendas, neglected the living conditions of those in extreme poverty, preventing the happy ending this law proposal had hoped to attain. As a result, MP Fadel decided in 22 June 2016 to present his written resignation to the general secretariat of the parliament, renouncing his salary. The decision came due to several factors, including the cumulative problems since the first and second extensions, as well as the indifference to the efforts in addressing essential issues like the election law and the electricity crisis.