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Social Security may extend work permits, clearances until end of February

23-12-2019

The Board of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is meeting today in an extraordinary session to discuss the extension of clearances for business owners which expired on September 30, 2019, until February 29, 2020. This was reportedly based on a directive by the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Judge Mahmoud Makieh, enclosing an extraordinary approval from the heads of the Republic and the Government to this end. To recall, the minister of labor in the caretaker government, Kamil Abu Sleiman, has previously sent a letter on December 20, to the Fund’s Chair, Tobia Zakhia, asking for the immediate application of the extension decision. It is worth noting, that the Social Security bill requires every business owner to get a clearance proving their payment of all their contributions and related financial dues to this effect in order to use it as a document allowing them to carry out any export or import transaction. Abu Sleiman’s decision was criticized by the head of the Social Security Cases Department, Sadek Alawieh, who described as ‘risky’ what he termed as ‘the extension by correspondence’ order. The minister was quick to acknowledge that it is more correct to issue a decree, justifying his action to give priority to the people’s interests amid the dire conditions and to facilitate the economic and export cycle. Al Akhbar newspaper considered that the extension and exemption of business owners from the payment of late fees could deprive the Social Security of funds (nearly USD 2 billion in liquid) it owes to the Lebanese State. (Al Akhbar, Al Diyar, An Nahar, December 21, 23, 2019)

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