While Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri presented his economic program, it appears that the protests are continuing. And for good reason, many questions and many points for which he did not answer, especially in terms of political reforms and acts proving, on the ground, his desire to put an end to public mismanagement and Corruption.
Yesterday, we had a bit of the impression that yesterday we had to deal with a magician who suddenly takes a rabbit out of his hat. No more problems appointing such and such a person to such or such an institution, no more taxes, whereas before they were necessary to spare the banks and a lot of tricks, diversions, which satisfy everyone. Many of the things mentioned had been on paper for many years, but remained at the stage of drafts, words and never applied, such as the famous administrative reform to abolish certain institutions deemed unnecessary and closet for many relatives of political figures or the arlésienne of privatization.
It looks like it is a plan, a patchwork made of recycled things, presented to calm things down and not to solve them in depth …
Questions therefore remain with regard to the program itself presented. As already mentioned, many are the proposals already formulated in the past, even during Paris II and III and in particular the commitment to privatize the 2 mobile telecommunications networks, but which have never been applied because of “conflicts of interest. “between political parties, with the use of these public enterprises sometimes even as a slush fund or to accommodate such and such a close person. It is not certain, after adoption of this plan that these proposals can be applied literally without being subject to either cancellation or endless negotiations as was already the case.
The other factor is to sell … but who would consider buying a company in a country which currently has a bad reputation due to its political instability, its economic crisis and its lack of transparency in the field? business and elsewhere who still has the money to do it in Lebanon itself?
As a reminder, the Lebanese state has already been condemned for the disputed denunciation when it had already denounced the 2 BOT contracts of the MIC1 and MIC2 networks formerly more commonly known as LibanCell, today MTC Touch, and Cellis, today ‘ hui Alfa.
If these are companies that will be listed on the Beirut Stock Exchange which has been in an embryonic state for many years, what is the current legal framework and what facilities will be offered to the Lebanese population, for example, to participate in the public subscription?
Selling family jewels but after?
We have the impression of dealing with a person in financial panic, who sells what he can sell, family jewels, those who still brought him little income in these times of crisis, that is to say the most profitable goods to pass a course. But after this milestone, what if the situation persists and there is nothing left to sell?
Let’s imagine that we end 2020 with a deficit, on paper of 0.6%. When will it be in 2021 in the absence of questioning of the high interest rates, the upcoming maturities, the consequence of the salary scale which accelerated the fall, therefore in the absence of the crisis of income, more severely impacted by the lack of economic growth, compared to public spending which remains enormous, in particular because there is no question of slimming down the mammoth to use an expression of a French minister, when we understand the budget structure? What are we going to sell at that time?
The plan presented only delays deadlines if we do not call into question the economic system …
Noise but no questioning of the system that led us to the economic crisis
The banking sector, for 25 years, has been built on fraud, where we see huge sums being invested in public debt instead of being invested in economic projects that could stimulate growth and therefore create wealth for all. .
Public debt is used to pay wages and interest on the debt. It is for this reason that they have maintained an overvalued currency and an artificial parity with high interest rates.
As long as the inflow of foreign currency was maintained, this system could continue, except that the cash inflow decreased at the beginning of the year which caused a collapse of this massive fraud system.
To avoid it, the banks would have had to diversify their investments in the private sector to stimulate it, to create jobs, for consumption (and not to buy cars), for housing (and not via subsidy of the BDL etc.), thus creating wealth and not debt via the State.
This is how we reached a public debt of 150% of the GDP, 83 billion dollars of debt, a state of economic recession also, with an increase for many years in the unemployment rate.
The whole banking structure today is in danger, because there are risks of bankruptcy of major banks in Lebanon if Lebanon fails because of this financial engineering. It is this even behind the scenes, this mechanism, that international institutions such as the IMF denounced by criticizing political and monetary authorities, including the BDL.
This fraud legalized by economic and monetary policy must be questioned and those responsible removed.
Voluntary forgetting …
Among the main items of public expenditure, the famous CDR, fund for displaced persons, Southern Council, are not mentioned. We even believe that the role of CDR will be even more important given its involvement in CEDRE.
Also forgotten … the tax reform or the great cleansing of public administrations where nepotism and clientelism have become commonplace, this is the case to say because of certain high salaries granted to incompetent people.
What about CEDRE, Mort Né?
Already, which country would invest in an unstable country? Faced with these risks, the countries and donor organizations of CEDRE are already reassessing their exposure to the Lebanese risk and some who were already wondering about the reality of the application of promises never made in the past.
Politics in economic reforms?
Other points of the reform plan seem somewhat strange, for example, the plan for the return of Syrian refugees in view of the political discussions seems rather to be a dead end and incidents of Qabr Chamoun prove that this subject is controversial. It is a political and not an economic issue, however, cited in a roadmap for economic reforms. A little off topic.
The case for the return of displaced Syrians:
A) Request the Minister of State for Displaced Persons to submit a guidance document on the return of displaced Syrians for approval within one month from the date of its submission;
(B) take the measures and means available to urge the international community to ensure the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and to contribute more to the cost of their charges for the State;
And totally absent political reforms …
It is indeed astonishing to see all the Lebanese, Christian and Muslim community components, united with the same slogans. Even during the Cedars Revolution, there remained some politicized divisions in the form of March 8 and 14. And these protesters are now aware of being in a position of strength by their unity in relation to political parties, which are denominational and participating in a denominational system. The demonstrators want to change this state of affairs which has resulted in a sharing of power and economic interests on these lines.
Indeed, when we question the demonstrators as well, whether from the North to the South of Lebanon, we should also note that there are requests for political reforms, namely to put an end to the system which allowed religious parties. to come to power and stay in power. Above all, they ask for the deconfessionalisation of the political system, starting with Parliament and early legislative elections.
But above all, the protesters seem to ask for guarantees and not commitments, acts and not words or plans to show a real will to fight against corruption against challenged elites. For this, only the arrests of high personalities and high officials, involved in cases of embezzlement of public funds and who until then enjoyed political or even religious protections, could calm the streets.
But the current authorities do not seem to understand it so far …