13 August 2014
Water is a national wealth which protection and development and investment should be the core of public interest within the principles of preserving the environment and natural balances and the right of every individual to take advantage of the same in accordance with the provisions of the enforceable laws.
Therefore there is a need to organize the management of this sector to get optimum performance at least cost.
First Section: historical evolution of water management before and after independence:
Before the creation of the Lebanese state in 1920, the consumers used to manage and benefit from water according to the customs and norms in the cities and villages. The citizens approved to respect a number of traditions with regard to allowing the use of water in a balanced and fair manner to avoid permanent conflicts, however, in the second of the nineteenth century, the situation has begun to change after the two following incidents:
First incident: is related to the issuance of the order of the Ottoman Sultan spent to drag water from the Naher El Kalb river for the distribution of drinking water in Beirut. This first franchise in the water sector opened the way until the mid-twentieth century to a series of franchises to meet the growing needs of the citizens, within a general administrative structure for the management of the water sector.
This franchise is important considering that upon the start of the implementation of the works there were legal conflicts between the owners of the franchise on one hand and the citizens and owners on the other hand, because the latter alleged their acquired rights on the water since a long time ago, and demanded to reconsider the franchise excellence.
Following long negotiations, an agreement was signed between the conflicting parties ,and is still valid until now between the Water Authority of Beirut as the heir of the franchise and the heirs of the owners of properties, and for the first time without any doubt the acquired rights on water became officially recognized by the public authorities.
The other incident: having the same importance is the enactment of the law magazine for judicial rulings since 1875 known under the gazette of which some chapters are still enforceable. This law has organized various sector of activities amongst which the water sector with the recognition of acquired rights on the water and its use.
This legal situation remained unchanged throughout the period of the following fifty years, and the conditions of water consumers and users remained covered by the customs and traditions, and franchises and the provisions of the gazette in effect.
As from 1920, a new legal phase began in Lebanon as the decision number 144 related to public domain was issued on June 10, 1925 and the decision number 320 dated May 26, 1926, on the protection of the public water and its use was enacted.
These texts, which are still enforceable remained unchanged since that date and constitute the main legislative pillar from the Water Act in Lebanon.
With the development of the situation, it was confirmed that there is a need to organize a new administrative system for the water sector, therefore the Water Authority of Beirut was established in 1951 and followed during subsequent years by a series of public authorities in several areas of the economic activity, particularly with respect to the distribution of drinking water and then on 29 March 1966 the Ministry of power and water resources was established by virtue of the law No. 20/66, which stipulated that the water projects and their implementation are its most important missions .
It is worth saying that during the sixties and early seventies This system secured drinking water for the majority of consumers, than the war erupted in 1975 with all its consequences until 1990, prevented the continuation of the development of water projects, in addition to the obligation of the state to secure aid and advances to the treasury as needed from the water authorities in order to sustain their activities.
Section II: a modern glimpse on the missions and structure of the ministry and public institutions under its guardianship:
First, the current situation:
Before treating the reasons requiring this amendment one should look at the current law on the establishment of the Ministry of power and Water Resources i.e. the law No. 20/66 Dated march 29th 1966, as amended and to shed some light on the reality of public institutions affiliated to this ministry and how the merger of five water authorities constitutes a significant step regarding the amendment in question.
The current situation of the functions and structure of the ministry:
the Ministry of power and water Resources was established by virtue of the law No. 20/66 on 29/03/1966 and was organized by virtue of the decree number 5469 Date September 7th 1966 and its establishment law was amended by virtue of the following provisions:
- Enforceable law by virtue of the decree number 3044 Date 25/03/1972.
- Enforceable law by virtue of the decree number 6650 Date 6/12/1973.
- Law No. 430 Date 15/5/1995.
- Decree No. 5343 dated 06.07.1994, on determining the personal and the missions of the authority functions of environment rehabilitation .
With referral to these texts it appears that the goals and functions and structure of the ministry are as follows.
- expending water projects, implementation and supervision of their execution and exploitation .
- The application of laws and regulations relating to the conservation and use of public water and discharge of wastewater and run of water.
- The exercise of administrative tutelage on independent authorities public institutions and bodies that operate in the fields of water and power.
- Exercise the power of control on the franchises of water, electricity and cable car.
- The application of laws and regulations relating to mines and quarries.
The functions and structure
The ministry is composed of the following two public administrations:
- Directorate General for water and power equipment.
- General Directorate of Investment.
The missions of each were defined in the decree 5469 abovementioned in a manner consistent with the objectives mentioned above:
A brief overview on the reality of public institutions under guardianship:
the public institutions working in the field of water have and are still suffering from difficulties which need to be discussed and reviewed the discretionary authority are not managed in majority by boards of directors duly but committees charged with the functions of the Board of Directors, and others vested to the Minister of guardianship and the executive power is still without personal or many of its functions are vacant or prescribed and anyhow reflect deficits in administrative and financial and technical capacities making it unable to perform the required missions. Its financial conditions are bad and they are hardly meeting their expenditures .
Perhaps this exacerbating situation is due to the lack of application of the law of merging the water authorities promulgated by Decree No. 3275 of 24/5/1972, which stipulated the need to have a water authority in each of the five governorates in Lebanon.
Second: The new vision of each functions and structures of the ministry and public institutions under its control:
With the end of the war, and the beginning of the year 1991 the need to reconsider the administrative structure emerged due to the requirements of development and to prevent the entanglement of powers and insure to meet the needs of the citizens rapidly in various fields such as drinking water irrigation and industrial water .
For this purpose, the Council of Ministers has already taken a decision No. 8 of 07.3.1994 and subsequent resolutions, including Resolution No. 1 Date 20/6/1994, which commissioned the Ministry of administrative reform to reconsider the structures of public administrations to make them more keeping up and following the movement of evolution and response to the needs of public facilities they handle, therefore a team from the mentioned ministry in cooperation with the staff of the Ministry of water Resources and power undertook this task which was the bases for a new vision of the objectives, functions and powers and structures of the units constituting the Ministry of Water Resources and power or bodies associated to it .
Therefore this perception brought novelties on two main levels :
Sharing or distribution of work between the Ministry of Water Resources, and power and public institutions associated with it so that the role of the ministry is limited to the supervision and putting the public policy in solving the water and electricity issues and to carry out the implementation of major projects save that the said institutions which have turned into investment institutions of water take into account the remaining affairs at every level ( report , implementation, maintenance ...)
Reconsider the structure of the ministry and investment institutions of water affiliated to it in order to make the same appropriate to achieve the goals and the role entrusted to them. The new vision of the functions of the investment authorities
Perhaps the most important features of the new vision for the work and the activity of the newly established institutions are the following:
- Convert them into water investment institutions by strengthening the independence of these institutions and make them able to manage their affairs in accordance with the methodology adopted in the private sector as they are investment institutions of commercial nature.
- Took over the planning of local programs and projects and design and implementation in accordance with the plans and strategies developed by the ministry.
- The construction and operation of facilities.
Propose tariffs and enforce them after the approval of the evaluation committee for water institutions management, composed of the representatives from each of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of guardianship and the private sector.
Because the conviction that the idea of merging the authorities and projects and committees of irrigation water (the number has increased to two hundred Commissions) into five authorities became a necessity , this merger shall be characterized by the following:
- Expansion of activities as in addition to the drinking water they will be administrating the irrigation water.
- Strengthening their powers as they are now studying implementing , managing and operating and maintaining the same , and there was a focus on the economic feasibility of the projects undertaken by these authorities , which is something not currently adopted . The authorities and committees within the scope of investment interest of each were merged. They also suppose the presence of a structure enhanced with competencies: administratively and financially and technically.
Thus it is clear that the merger will enhance public facilities undertaken by these institutions and will replace the dependence on the central administration and will make them in addition to shortening the number of executive and decision bodies enjoy the advantages of major institutions which are supposed to be more capable and efficient in the performance of their functions and prevent them from wasting their expenditures and briefly give an opportunity to these investment institutions to put into practice their administrative and financial independence and prove their independent legal entity competent and efficient, and this is reinforced without any doubt by developing their own regulations which will replace the decree 4517 so that these institutions shall be granted the freedom and independence enabling them to manage with the necessary flexibility and the ease prior controls to the extreme while strengthening the delayed control based on performance indicators, and the ministry is working on the preparation of this by issuing the draft texts needed in this area.
So Based on the above mentioned,
The draft law was prepared and transferred to your estimated board with the hope of approving it