Some “traders of politics” in Lebanon issued statements that downplayed the social and economic deterioration the country is witnessing and the government debt that has reached $55.4 billion (almost 1.364% of local production). Officials act as if they are not responsible for the way things turned to be and they only make statements and try to hold others accountable.
Meanwhile, more taxes are imposed on the Lebanese as if it is their destiny to pay for the helplessness of those they entrusted with running the country and for years of favoritism, corruption, and abuse of power. It seems as if the Lebanese people should live with the inefficient performance of the government which is characterized by the absolute absence of checks and balances and get used to lack of public services which have becomes extremely expensive let alone of a deplorable quality.
In short, the Lebanese people are once more asked to provide for the public sector, basically made up of unproductive opportunists who take the place of the qualified who serve the country in silence and dignity and are never rewarded with enhancing their skills and offering them the opportunities they deserve.
There has to be an end to this tendency towards imposing taxes and adding to the financial burdens of the Lebanese whenever there emerges a need to settle debts, pay salaries, or cover expenses. It is only investment in productive sectors and providing the suitable environment for development and projects that would make reform possible. This should be accompanied by the promotion of a “work culture” in which production and efficiency are the main criteria. This will boost the economy, revive tourism, and offer new job opportunities as well as eventually decreases the debts.
Administrative, economic, and tax reforms have to start right away and before it’s too late. A long term plan should include a study of desired results, available resources, and anticipated revenues as well as possible procedures like austerity, restructuring, development, and cutting down expenses.
The plan should basically aim at enhancing Lebanon’s competitive edge and boosting the confidence of the citizen/consumer. If this does not happen, we will see how helpless those “traders of politics” will become in the face of economic and financial deterioration and which will not be different from how helpless they proved to be in dealing with political and security crises.
(The Arabic version of this article was published on the Lebanon-based Annahar newspaper on Sept. 28, 2012. Twitter: @HayekMG)