Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Lebanese economists' recommendations (following protests)

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
The Lebanese economy is going through a serious crisis that has placed the country at a historic crossroads, as the economic and political foundations of the rentier pattern prevalent since the 1990s have disintegrated, with the ruling powers unable to find any viable alternative. In the face of this stalemate, the undersigned economists believe that there is no alternative to putting forward an economic vision that establishes a new economic model that not only solves the current crisis - the simultaneous large trade and current deficits, fading growth rates, high unemployment and declining external financial flows - but also builds a new economy that secures development. Development and social justice.

In this context, economists put forward the following measures:

First, a radical change in the foundations of the Lebanese economy and its transformation from a rentier economy that destroys the environment and benefits the few to a balanced and sustainable productive economy that responds to the interests of the majority in all regions of Lebanon. This requires measures to divert resources from rent and monopolistic practices to competitive production through a modern tax system and public investment in infrastructure that supports high-productivity and export sectors, particularly the electricity and telecommunications sector.

Second, a radical and just tax reform provides new resources for building a modern state and reduces the deficit and the accumulation of public debt that the few who invest in debt instruments benefit. The basis of this new tax system is the adoption of progressive and raising taxes on the dividends of profits and rents and benefits and the introduction of a tax on wealth and increase rates of taxation on the inheritance of great wealth.

Third, work to solve the problem of public debt and accumulation and remove the specter from the Lebanese economy and future generations, through the conversion of the Central Bank of Lebanese treasury bonds owned by low-interest bonds, and through negotiation with commercial banks holding a large part of the public debt to reduce interest on bonds And to recover public funds transferred to them through successive financial engineering by subjecting them to an exceptional tax.

Fourth, uphold the dismantling of the monopoly blocs controlling the markets of food, hydrocarbons, medicine, cement, flour and others, which are hiding behind the guise of exclusive agencies, and are greatly supported by powerful forces within the Authority.

Fifth, the establishment of a new and advanced industrial policy in order to support the establishment of a productive economy, transfer of technology and the alignment of the Lebanese economy with the scientific development and high level of skills of the Lebanese youth, thus stimulating the increase of productivity, wages and growth rates and promote the withdrawal of the effects of industrial development on other economic sectors.

Sixth, to build a social welfare state that embodies the right of the Lebanese to science, medicine, hospitalization, housing, retirement and environmental protection, as well as developing programs to eradicate poverty and marginalization, which afflicts more than 30 percent of the Lebanese.

As Lebanese economists begin to disengage from the sectarian leadership, the time has come and there is a historic opportunity for radical reforms and changes in the structure of the Lebanese economy to cross into a new, productive, modern and sustainable economy befitting 21st century Lebanon and providing decent jobs. The well-being and progress of the majority and not of the few.


Lydia Aswad - Kamal Hamdan - Albert Dagher - Ghassan Dibeh - Mohammed Zbib - Jad Shaban - Amin Saleh - Sami Atallah - George Qorm - Dan Azzi - Mofeed Qtish - Dima Karim