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Adel Afiouni: Lebanon Needs Short-Term Support of 10 Billion US Dollars to Address the Current Crisis

Adel Afiouni, the Lebanese Government’s former Minister of State for Investments and Technology, recently conveyed alarm at the country’s current crisis when speaking with Sky News Arabia.

In an interview he gave on the 22nd August 2021, Afiouni said that the situation is becoming catastrophic for Lebanese citizens, who are facing an acute economic and social crisis. The country has recently seen steep hikes in prices for food, fuel and many basic products, which – combined with massive shortfalls in essential goods – has caused poverty in the country to soar to unprecedented levels.

Lebanese citizens are growing increasingly desperate, standing in long queues waiting for essential necessities and struggling to find food. This critical state requires radical measures, as well as a clear rescue plan addressing the multiple facets of the current crisis.

Adel Afiouni criticised Lebanon’s current subsidies system, which relies on the central bank reserves, pointing out that it is flawed and unfair. He indicated that the subsidies system had aggravated the central bank’s financial hole, leading to a continuing increase in depositors’ losses.

The former Minister of State for Investments and Technology explained that the subsidies regime needed to be reformed and fundamentally changed. To date, no action has been taken to remedy the country’s flawed subsidy system or replace it with a fairer, more transparent system that focuses on the needy.

In the interview, Mr Afiouni explained that the authorities in charge have been unable to implement a comprehensive rescue plan that tackles the crisis. He indicated that the measures taken to date are little more than piecemeal solutions which actually do more harm than good, and fail to address the underlying problem. Adel Afiouni is lobbying for the Lebanese Government and other authorities to provide social support to help alleviate the effect of the crisis on the country’s poorest.

For over a year now, politicians have been unable to agree on a government capable of handling the crisis. Disagreements do not reflect ideological or economic differences, but purely hinge on cabinet quota percentages.

Adel Afiouni suggests that even if the political class could agree on a cabinet formation, such a cabinet would struggle to meet the expectations of the Lebanese people, who need a government capable of managing the country with transparency, without a special or vested interest.

The only viable rescue plan at this point would be the formation of an independent government comprising competent ministers and experts, but unfortunately there seems to be little prospect of such a government being formed, with no radical reforms currently planned.

With 27 years of professional experience in the banking sector, Adel Afiouni served as Minister for Investments and Technology in the Lebanese Government from 2019 to 2020. He has been a vocal advocate for financial, economic and banking reforms in the country, speaking on several Arabic and English TV talk shows, giving interviews, and writing numerous articles.