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A Lebanese woman holds up a sign reading in Arabic ‘in Lebanon, corruption is the basis of rule’, during a protest outside the Justice Palace in Beirut on November 6, 2019. (AFP)

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday slammed the government over a draft program for tackling the country’s crippling financial crisis, saying it appeared on course for an “economic suicide plan”.
The draft that surfaced this week included a proposal for a “a transitory exceptional contribution from large depositors” as part of measures to address huge losses in the financial system, among other politically difficult measures.

“Since the formation of this government, it has been promising the Lebanese and the world an economic rescue plan. Based on this, we decided to give it a grace period, before judging the promised plan. But it seems that it is heading towards an economic suicidal plan, based on the confiscation of the money of the Lebanese deposited in the banks,” said Hariri in his tweet Friday.

Hariri added: “The grace period that we gave doesn’t mean in any way to allow the government and those behind it to change the nature of our economic system that is safeguarded by the constitution, or put the hand on the people’s life earnings so that the state can exempt itself from any contribution to the effort required by everyone. We will soon take a strong stance if the issue is not made right.”

Hopeless

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said on Saturday that reform in Lebanon is a “hopeless” case as long as “the trio” parties continue to dominate the country’s authority, a possible reference to the Iranian backed Hezbollah, president Michel Aoun’s FPM and Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement

“As long as the trio (political parties) are in control of the authority in Lebanon, there is no hope for any reform or any actual rescue plan,” said Geagea in a statement, without naming the parties in the trio.

The LF chief said any rescue plan that does not first of all address reforms in several sectors will not be approved by his party. 

“Channels of corruption and squandering of public funds are still wide open,” said Geagea.

Adding that the LF would approve a rescue plan only if “reforms are introduced to the electricity and telecommunication sectors, to the customs services, and that all illegal crossings must be closed and the contracts of all illegal and legal employees must be halted because they were imposed for electoral reasons,” he stated.

Geagea warned that a rescue plan failing to take the above into consideration, means “it seeks new resources for the state from the people’s pockets without putting an end for corruption or waste of public funds.”

Sacred

Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said this week that people’s bank deposits were “sacred” and must not be touched. 

Berri called on Central bank chief Riad Salameh to confirm to the Lebanese people that their bank deposits are safe and will not be touched, but Salameh ignored the request and never responded. Salameh ‘s credibility has suffered greatly during the past six months since whatever he promised was never delivered according to financial observers.

Commenting on Berri’s comment one analyst described it as ” hot air” stressing that “Berri is one of the most corrupt politicians in Lebanon “

Asharq Al-Awsat/Naharnet

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