Protests started in Lebanon a few days ago. The demonstrations have been held in protest to tax raise and poor living conditions. The protests erupted when the Lebanese government approved a plan to impose tax on calls in Whatsapp and other messaging apps, describing it as a plan to increase the government’s revenue in the 2020 budget.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri asked the minister of information to halt the plan, as the protests intensified in Beirut and other cities.
Meanwhile, a few days ago, fire engulfed forests in Lebanon and displaced many families. Hariri’s administration could not contain the fire due to the breakdown of helicopters and the government’s negligence to maintain and repair them. These events infuriated Lebanese people more.
Without God’s blessing and raining, Lebanon would suffer a major disaster.
To counter budget deficit, the government imposed new taxes by introducing austerity measures, a move which made the Lebanese angry. The Lebanese lira has lost its value and caused protests. The protests have also led to fuel crisis. The Bread Baker Guild has also threatened to go on strike.
In such difficult economic conditions, the Lebanese demonstrators blocked the roads between cities. There were clashes between the protesters and security forces who were trying to prevent the protesters from reaching the prime minister’s office. Following the protests, schools, universities and banks were closed.
Hezbollah secretary general’s position toward the protests
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has taken a position on the developments in Lebanon that can be summarized as follows:
- Emphasizing the need to take responsibility. Criticizing some leaders and political groups for evading their duties and shifting their responsibility on others.
- Severe opposition to imposing tax on poor classes.
- Emphasizing that the current situation is the result of the unsolved problems.
- Warning about the dangers that threaten the country, including financial and economic collapse and the anger of people due to wrong resolutions.
- Calling the allegations against Hezbollah incorrect, allegations that claim Hezbollah is taking actions against the banks.
- Emphasizing the need for the politicians to gain the trust of the Lebanese people.
- Opposing the fall of the cabinet and emphasizing the need for continuation of the current government.
- Clarifying the inefficiency of technocratic government that some are defending.
- Opposing premature election since it requires a great funding and does not make any difference.
- Emphasizing that neither political parties nor the embassies were involved in the popular protests.
- Hezbollah’s support for people and assuring that it will not allow Lebanon to degenerate into a breakdown.
- Advising the protestors to not follow those politicians who want to take advantage of the current situation.
- The big steps that should be taken to save the country from crisis.
- The protesters should not attack security forces.
On the protests in Lebanon, the Raialyoum newspaper reported that Hariri’s government has shown that it is alien to people and their problems by taxing Whatsapp calls and services. This move revealed that Hariri is indifferent to people’s lives, economic, political and social conditions as well as unemployment, rising prices, and corruption. The six-dollar fee that the Lebanese government intended to impose on free phone calls and services acted like a spark that fueled the people’s anger and brought thousands of Lebanese, who are on the brink of poverty, to the streets.
A caricature mocked the situation, showing that the Lebanese are paying tax as Switzerland and receiving services as Somalia. The difference is that the Somalis are caught in a civil war and terrorist groups have created a mayhem in the country. But what is the justification for such circumstances in Lebanon!
According to Raialyoum, a Lebanese expert wrote, “How does Lebanon want to break out of its current state with annual expenditure of $19 billion and national income less than $5billion, while asking for the help of donor countries to tackle its budget deficit?”
The source also added that Lebanon’s total debt has reached $110 bn. The donor countries have agreed to lend Lebanon provided that it fights corruption, increases tax and decreases costs. The Lebanese officials did not make any effort to meet those conditions because they have plunged the country into such as situation to add cash to their accounts in Lebanese and foreign banks. They have turned to imposing tax on poor people who do not have anything to eat and cannot afford medical costs for their children. The officials are trying to find a way out by impoverishing the poor people.
From experts’ prospective, the only solution for saving Lebanon is to move toward a productive economy, review monetary policy, impose tax on the rich people and take other measures in various sectors.