Hassan Alaik wrote in Al-Akhbar:
What is happening in the country, from 2019 until today, has nothing to do with what is falsely called “the failure of the authority.” The “authority”, with its monopolistic political, legislative and banking-financial wings, backed by the religious authority and the vast majority of the media, is fully aware of what it is doing and succeeds in achieving it.
It simply defends its privileges, and refuses to pay even a small part of the losses inflicted on the economy and people. To indicate the resounding success of this authority, the great paradox that appeared yesterday is sufficient: While a parliamentary committee was looking into granting part of the poor families a financing card, each containing an average of 93 dollars per month as a shallow “compensation” for lifting subsidies on medicine and fuel, the bank revealed In 2020, Swiss banks received additional deposits from Lebanon amounting to $2.6 billion, bringing the total of Lebanese deposits in Swiss banks to more than $7 billion.
It is necessary – at every stage of the collapse – to return to the main turning point: the financial rescue plan for the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab. This plan would have been a starting point, despite all the loopholes in it, to get out of the crisis. Or at least, its application could have reduced the speed of the collapse and reduced its cost to society in general, albeit disparately among the different social classes. This plan would have been accompanied by a law to impose capital controls (Capital Control), which would prevent the smuggling of the money of the big people, including politicians, bankers, monopolists, and clerics… abroad. However, the “authority” decided to destroy that plan, through a systematic cheating process entitled “The government paper includes exaggerated numbers of losses.” Instead of proposing an alternative plan, the government’s plan was dropped by a parliamentary committee headed by the Secretary of the Strong Lebanon bloc, Representative Ibrahim Kanaan. He was assisted in managing this process by a member of the Liberation and Development Bloc, Yassin Jaber, and a member of the President Najib Mikati’s bloc, by Representative Nicolas Nahas. Kanaan performed the task assigned to him by the ruling system, to the extent that the creator of the so-called “impossible discharge” received congratulations from the Future Movement! The goal was to protect bank owners and large depositors (politicians, monopolists…) from making a serious contribution to the cost of getting out of the crisis, because they have benefited the most, for decades, from all the policies that led the country to total collapse. In that committee, the alignment was not hidden or equivocal: “All means all” worked to destroy the plan, and only a member of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, MP Ali Fayyad, who later boycotted, with his bloc, the press conference held by the trio: Kanaan-Jaber Copper to announce their result.
That boycott looked like a frown in the dark. It did not prevent the commission of that operation, which can be said was the “original crime” in the post-breakdown phase. And because it is the “original crime”, it must be recalled with every transition to a new stage of collapse. The new phase will undoubtedly be harsher than its predecessors on the residents of Lebanon, and in particular, on the poor and middle-income among them.
The new turning point is called the lifting of subsidies, and the discussion of approving a “finance card”, which is granted to a part of Lebanese families, to help them face the consequences of the decision to reduce import subsidies for gasoline, diesel, gas and medicine, at varying rates. After more than a year and 8 months since the results of the collapse began to appear, and after the formation of many committees, and ministerial, parliamentary and banking sessions, the subcommittee emanating from the joint parliamentary committees, yesterday, completed its work on the “card” that is presented as a savior for the Lebanese from the consequences of canceling or reducing subsidies Or what is called “rationalization”.
On behalf of the Authority, the Committee proposed the following:
The poorest families, who benefit from the World Bank loan, the distribution of which has not yet begun, will be given what the World Bank decides for them. More clearly, the Lebanese who are in a state of extreme poverty, and before the collapse were standing on the edge of starvation, the authority will not pay attention to them, but rather decided to leave their matter to a loan from the World Bank that gives them tens of dollars a month.
The rest of the families that “deserve support”, whose number is not yet known, will be given an average of $93 per month per family.
Every family whose member has a bank account of more than one thousand dollars and less than fifty thousand dollars will not receive any support. A law will be passed obligating banks to pay $100 per month (only one hundred dollars), to this family, from their deposit. More clearly, any individual who collected a thousand dollars over the years, and his luck was so bad that his “wealth” was deposited in a bank, will be deprived of support, and his reserved money will be considered a compensation approved by the state!
These measures are all that the authority will face with the state of collapse that has been achieved, and those that have not yet begun. She had enough time to pass a public transportation plan that would reduce the cost of importing fuels, and would allow residents to move around without using their cars… She had enough time to conclude state-to-state agreements to import domestic gas at reasonable prices…and she had time Enough to conclude drug import agreements at “reasonable” prices… and she had enough time to develop a stimulus plan for the economy, support local manufacturing, and re-launch banking to serve the economy… and in the end she could pay generous sums of money to Lebanese families, to support them to bear The consequences of the collapse, before the consequences of lifting the subsidy… She could have done a lot in a year and 8 months, but she preferred to waste all that time, to open the door wide to smuggling money abroad, and to burden the general population with the bulk of the losses, instead of bearing the bulk of them. Those whose fortunes give them the ability to pay for losses without being crushed.
There is an additional paradox to add to the dichotomy of “the 93 dollars for the Lebanese family versus the 2.6 billion dollars smuggled to Switzerland alone, in 2020 alone.” The additional irony is that the Parliamentary Committee, on behalf of the entire authority, decided to finance part of the cost of the proposed card, through the use of a loan from the World Bank earmarked for the express transport project. A public transport project, linking the capital with the regions, by means of fast buses, that reduces the cost of importing gasoline and the cost of transportation paid by the residents. Instead of speeding up its implementation, the authority decided to bury him and use his money as a temporary “ping-pinch” after canceling the subsidy, leaving the population to continue serving the fortunes of the hydrocarbon mafia.
To complete the work of the Parliamentary Committee, some of its members (headed by Yassin Jaber and the Lebanese Forces deputies) insisted on linking the approval of the card and the lifting of support. The forces were demanding the abolition of support completely. As for Jaber, and some of his colleagues, they were more “merciful.” They asked the government for a project for what they call “rationalization of support.” The Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs, Zina Aker, presented them with a paper prepared by her colleague, Minister of Economy, Raoul Nehme, and approved in ministerial meetings. This paper foreshadows the complete abolition of food subsidies, 54 percent of medicines, 30 percent of gas, 40 percent of gasoline, and 32 percent of diesel. In the event that this recipe of Raoul Naama is adhered to, the price of a “jar” of domestic gas will become more than 125,000 pounds, more than 179,000 pounds for a can of diesel, and more than 192,000 pounds for a can of gasoline, according to the figures provided in the ministerial paper. These prices are proposed by the authority to counteract by distributing 93 dollars per month to a limited number of families. These prices will not stop there, because the dollar price, in turn, will not have a ceiling after lifting the support. A new crime will be committed, in the name of protecting depositors’ money, of which more than 85 percent have been looted, and in the name of combating smuggling!