Lebanon seeks to quell mass discontent by approving economic reforms
Boutros Hussein and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Enormous demonstrations in Lebanon seem to be shaking up the political elites because this isn’t based on sectarianism; it is based on enormous discontent in all quarters of society. Hence, the coalition government that desires to quell the situation has approved economic reforms.
Of course, some in the government believe that the crisis is out-of-hand and that the political desire is based on vested interests. Thus, four ministers belonging to the Lebanese Forces (Christian party) resigned by the wishes of Samir Geagea.
Geagea stipulated, “We are now convinced that the government is unable to take the necessary steps to save the situation…Therefore, the bloc decided to ask its ministers to resign from the government.”
Irrespective if people support or oppose Geagea, many will agree that the crisis is out of control. This is related to the dire economic situation and embedded self-serving political reality. In other words, many ordinary Lebanese want a fresh start and a genuine break from the past. Therefore, protestors are demanding genuine economic reforms, a political structure that exists that isn’t self-serving – or reliant on external forces.
The enormous protests are witnessing all sections of society demonstrating irrespective of gender, religion, and other important factors. This is making the political elites take note. Thus, the coalition government stipulated that it would enact economic reforms.
For example, scrap future proposed taxes, salary reduction of 50 percent on top government officials, request the banks to contribute to the budget, open the telecommunications sector to privatization, and other areas. At the same time, to implement measures to reign in corruption and to focus on the dilapidated infrastructure.
The BBC reports, “Lebanon’s public infrastructure, which was already stretched before more than one million refugees arrived from neighboring Syria, is also ailing. Electricity and water supplies are disrupted frequently and rubbish often piles up on the streets.”
Reuters said, “Across the country, people blocked roads for a fifth day. Schools, banks and businesses closed. Hundreds of thousands of people have flooded the streets, furious at a political class they accuse of pushing the economy to the point of collapse.”
It remains to be seen if the current coalition government can placate the protestors because the grievances are many. Hence, the suspicion in some quarters is that genuine change and reforms are needed outside the current political elites.
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