Efforts to revive BDL audit, Beirut port’s future, Sinopharm vaccine arrives: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday


https://mail.google.com-A total of 90,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine arrived at Beirut airport yesterday. (Credit: Hussam Shbaro)

The Finance Ministry announced that Banque du Liban will begin submitting outstanding documents requested as part of its forensic audit starting Friday. The announcement was made following a meeting of representatives from the Finance Ministry, audit firm Alvarez & Marsal and BDL. The central bank, which did not have any immediate comment yesterday, had previously maintained it had submitted “all state and bank accounts” at BDL — a claim the finance minister called “contrary to reality.” If BDL cooperates, it will submit all necessary documents by the end of the month, allowing the revival of the audit, which seeks to uncover the causes of Lebanon’s worst financial crisis in decades.

A delegation of consultants from Germany arrived in Lebanon to present their study of Beirut port’s reconstruction. The team from Hamburg Port Consulting, one of the firms involved, is set to hold a press conference tomorrow to present the study. Meanwhile, a report seen by L’Orient-Le Jour says that the northern section of the port’s grain silos is at risk of tipping over. The silos are credited with shielding parts of western Beirut from the blast wave of the explosion that decimated parts of the city, leaving more than 200 dead. The investigation into the disaster has been moving slowly, with the chief investigator replaced in February after charging outgoing Premier Hassan Diab and three former ministers. The new investigator heard testimony yesterday from Lebanon’s defense minister from 2016–19 — years in which the ammonium nitrate explosive sat dormant at the port.

Some 90,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Lebanon from China yesterday — the first such donation of vaccines from a foreign state. The inoculations are destined for members of the military — 50,000 doses — and media, public sector and insurance workers. Lebanon’s vaccine rollout continues to progress slowly, and with just 1.9 percent of the adult population thus far fully immunized against COVID-19, concern is mounting that vulnerable groups are being left behind. Human Rights Watch warned yesterday that the campaign risks marginalizing refugees and migrant workers, who make up a third of the country’s population, but less that 3 percent of those vaccinated thus far.

Taxis and public transport vans and buses are staging a strike this morning till 10 a.m. The head of the land transport unions, Bassam Tleis, said it was taking the action to protest deteriorating living conditions. By 7.30 a.m., the National News Agency had reported a traffic jam at Dora roundabout as trucks, vans and buses gathered in response to the union’s call. The sector has been decimated by the financial crisis, which has seen a steep decline in the value of the lira, and the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept many off the roads and off public transit over the past year.



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