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Beirut blast: The Way Lebanon is facing crisis after crisis

Lebanon’s funding was that this week ravaged by a deadly explosion and today requires massive investments to fix — a challenging feat in a nation now suffering from the worst recession on record.

Nearly 150 deaths were recorded in the time of publication after Tuesday’s blast at the city’s most important port. Over 5,000 were had been hurt and a further 300,000 were left homeless.

For Lebanon, the devastation by the explosion — probably due to the ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate — arrived as the country is wrestling with a dire financial situation and a worldwide pandemic.

An economic crisis
The World Bank increased the alert last November, cautioning that roughly a third of Lebanon’s 6.1 million inhabitants were living below the poverty line in 2019 and the percentage may rise to 50 percent annually.

The Lebanese currency needed, by then, already begun its freefall and has since dropped 80 percent of its value against the US dollar.

The money jolt was blindsided by what’s been described as a state-sponsored Ponzi scheme.

To keep the market afloat, for decades the central bank borrowed money from banks. To entice an increasing number of money and so provide loans to the central bank, these financial institutions provided increasingly large interest rates into account holders — Cuban citizens and diaspora.

But worries over this particular system, political corruption and decreasing remittances from the diaspora finally watched the cash tap into the central bank run dry, crashing the entire system.

Lebanon imports all its demands, such as meals,” Hannes Baumann, Senior Lecturer in the University of Liverpool and visiting fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre, advised Euronews.

“The diminishing value of money means that imports become more unaffordable. Interest has skyrocketed and lots of households are pushed below the poverty line. Many companies had to shut down. Most Lebanese will emigrate, together with all the most highly-educated and people with dual citizenship inclined to depart,” he added.

What hadn’t reared its head at the moment, nevertheless, was that the COVID-19 pandemic, that has murdered over 715,000 people worldwide and devastated economies globally.

Inflation, meanwhile, has been expected to skyrocket from 2.9 percent a year to 17 percent in 2020.

A political crisis
After a traumatic 15-year civil war, Lebanon’s political strategy was rebuilt in 1990 to provide representation to different spiritual groups, the biggest of that being Christian Maronites, Sunni Muslims, and Shiite Muslims.

The amount of seats in parliament is split between Christians and Muslims and divided among different denominations within every faith. Government articles and public-sector positions will also be divided among most sects.

The current consecutive currency shocks have pushed people to the streets in protest, which were sometimes turned violent. Protesters rail against widespread corruption and have called on the authorities to step down.

According to the most recent report in Transparency International, that an anti-corruption NGO, 87 percent of taxpayers in Lebanon believe their government isn’t doing enough to tackle corruption. The nation also has the maximum bribery speed — 41 percent — in the area.

The IMF, whose assignment is to assist in markets in distress, and has been in discussions with the nation for weeks and progress has been slow.

Kristalina Georgieva advised that a Reuters webcast in late June who”the center of the matter is whether there may be unity of purpose from the nation that will the carryforwards a set of quite demanding but necessary steps” — that the organization is uncertain if there is sufficient political willpower to perform crucially-needed reforms.

“Lebanon’s political elites have been utilizing reconstruction since the conclusion of the civil war in 1990 to improve themselves. Public services like waste, waste collection, or supply of freshwater are woefully inadequate,” Baumann said.

“The explosion matches this pattern: people bureaus were shutting their eyes to the harmful cargo stored from the vent because 2013. The greatest responsibility for its woeful state of public services lies with all the authorities since 2013, that have failed to give the accountable and transparent government,” he added.

“An important thing is that foreign forces, by the US into Europe, from Saudi Arabia to Iran, indulged Lebanon’s political group for several years. A major chunk of this foreign aid into the nation was used to chunk politicians’ patronage networks,” he went on.

Regardless of the sheer scale of the devastation and the danger of COVID-19, anger against the authorities across the explosion once again sent folks out in the road in their droves on Thursday.

Earlier in the afternoon, French President Emmanuel Macron had assured sailors a”new political pact” after meetings with the nation’s president, prime minister, and other political leaders.

Macron gave the government until September 1 to inflict this pact, warning that there could be”no blank cheque into a system which does not possess the confidence of the people”.

Also, he vowed to help organize European and global aid into the nation and guaranteed that the funds could be channeled “right towards NGOs”.

For Baumann, “the authorities look untenable, although the type of cupboard would replace it’s unclear”.

“More concrete requirements include an independent inquiry into the source of the explosion, maybe a global one as country institutions aren’t reliable,” he explained.