UNDP Projects with the Lebanese Government
Who Is Paying? Who Is Breaking the Laws? And Who Is Concealing the Numbers?
Since the beginning of the 1990’s, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has provided technical and administrative assistance to the Lebanese government. Its work has been focused in the ministries of finance, economy, administrative development and environment and, a few years ago, the premiership.
Most researchers and Lebanese think that the UNDP finances its activities, but to date, the UNDP has not made public how a project is initiated, its cost and the identity of the funder(s).
The fact of the matter is that the Lebanese Government makes UNDP appear as the funder, while in reality it is not. Instead, it is a façade acting as an employment agency on behalf of the government. The UNDP is supposedly selecting qualified applicants to work in these administrations in the capacity of advisers to the minister’s office while the government pays their salaries in full. The mere fact that the consecutive Lebanese governments have omitted the cost of their arrangement with the UN agency, hiding behind such slogans as “external contribution and aid,” present clear proof of perpetrations by both sides.
The arrangement forms a violation of government decrees barring any employment by state organs and of a law stipulating that any employment should take place via the Civil Service Board. In the case of UNDP, a minister hires his advisers paying monthly salaries as high as USD 7,000 for some and USD 2,500 as a minimum for junior employees. Both figures exceed the legally defined salaries that public servants, who work in these ministries on a permanent basis, receive. For example, the director general, who has spent 20 years in service, gets paid USD 2,500, an amount equal to the salary of a “junior UNDP employee” working in one of these ministries.
The adopted mechanism is not only a way to exercise influence but is also used as a tool against ministers and director generals who fall out of favor. The prime minister or the influential minister, who is looked favorably upon, can hire whomever he wishes while other ministers are denied this “blessing.” This is why we find that most employees in the program work for the premiership and ministries of finance, economy, environment, administrative development in addition to parliament.
Following is a breakdown of costs for UNDP projects financed by the Lebanese government according to the 2009 draft budget law:
- Economy and Trade Ministry: LBP 1,350,000,000.
- Premiership: LBP 1,424,590,000 (a project to ‘Support to Decision Making at the PM office’).
In reality, the cost over the years is much higher than this. Funds being spent by or via the UNDP are not clearly stated in the budget where there is an intentional concealment of the figures. The UNDP site however, discloses information on most of its projects with the following being the most significant:
1- “Support to the Ministry of Economy and Trade”
Cost of the project: USD 9,245,000
Donors: Ministry of Economy and Trade: 6,500,000
PRIVSECT: 45,000 UNDP: 500,000
Project duration: January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2009
Prior Expenditures: 2,769,817 (without specifying the years)
2004: 779,828 2005: 718,129
2006: 749,049 2007: 728,70.35
2- “Support to Decision Making at the PM office”
Cost of the project: USD 2,508,983
Donors: Ministry of Administrative Development
Project duration: January 1, 2003 – June 30, 2008
Prior Expenditures: 317,159 (without specifying years)
2004: 1,000,185 2005: 480,578
2006: 649,120 2007: 904,257.84
3- “Capacity Development for Fiscal Reform and Management”
Cost of the project: USD 18,500,000
Donors: Ministry of Finance
Project duration: January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2010
Prior Expenditures: 2,704,658 (without specifying years)
2004: 1,460,907 2005: 1,451,428
2006: 5,718,301 2007: 2,637,806.58
A thorough examination of figures shows that tens of millions of dollars were spent under the cover of ‘UNDP’s support for the Lebanese government’, in violation of the law. The Lebanese government, undoubtedly holds the main responsibility for breaking the laws of the country, but the UNDP is considered an accomplice and a primary beneficiary.