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Lebanon Still Burns As Hariri Tries To Salvage Power

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Lebanon protest

Bonds continue to plunge and angry Lebanese are still on streets, even when emergency reforms were announced in Lebanon. It seems the lot is still not happy, as civilians have taken to streets to express their distaste and irritation over failing economic conditions and a poor governance.

The world has seen a number of such civil outbreaks in the last few weeks. Iraq, Chile and Libya are a few of them to be named.  Schools, banks and business remained shut for fifth day in a row, throwing normal life into disarray, a step which seemed to be necessary and a last resort for a very angry Lebanese population.

In his defense, the PM Saad al-Hariri has expressed that the emergency measures are just to mark a start of reform. Despite the announcement, the dollar dominated bounds are reported to have suffered a downfall.

Civilians are livid over the rampant corruption that has penetrated into the country’s governing system.  Lebanon is demanding that justice be meetted and leaders who have been using their positions to enrich themselves for decades through favourable deals and kickbacks, should be put to trial. Hariri, facing  danger of losing power, has approved a 50percent reduction in the salaries of of former presidents, ministers and MPs plus cuts in benefits to state institutions and officials. The new reform proposal also obliges the central bank and private banks to contribute $3.3 billion to achieve a “near zero deficit” for the 2020 budget.

There might be temporary relief but winning back the trust of the masses would be a long haul task.  Lebanon has one of the world’s highest levels of government debt as a share of economic output. The economy has been long hit by political paralysis and regional conflicts, making any real progress a distant dream.

While international donors in 2018 had pledged $11 billion to help Lebanon finance capital investment, it was conditional on reforms. These reforms were never put into practice, up until now, when Hariri has been forced to promise that new decisions would satisfy donors and the government would approve within three weeks the first phase of the capital investment programme.

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