Lebanon Daily News Brief 03/07/2022

Monday, March 7, 2022


Lebanon Mills Association: Government Orders Limits on Flour
Amid the continuing conflict in Ukraine, L’Orient Today reports, “The decision to limit deliveries to flour intended for Arabic bread, a staple food in most Lebanese households, rather than for other baked good, came by agreement between Salam, Industry Minister George Bouchikian and Agriculture Minister Abbas Hajj Hassan, according to the mill association statement, and was made “in order to continue production of this type of flour for as long as possible, until additional quantities of wheat arrive, especially since the concerned ministers are making the necessary contacts with global markets, and these efforts may yield positive results, and therefore there is no need to panic and rush to bakeries and stockpiling flour and bread.” [L’Orient Today]

Candidate Registration in Upcoming Elections Sees Uptick in Traditional Parties
As the May 15th parliamentary elections approaches, with its candidate registration deadline set for March 8th, The961 reports increasing registrations from candidates representing the traditional parties as well as independents. [The961]

Panel Formed to Study US Maritime Border Proposal, Berri and Hezbollah To Boycott
As quoted in Naharnet, “It had been initially decided to form a technical-administrative committee comprising representatives of the three presidencies (Aoun, Berri and Miqati) and the relevant ministries, but Berri distanced himself from this panel and refrained from dispatching any representative [alongside Hezbollah]. . . It was later decided to limit the committee’s membership to representatives of the Presidency, the Premiership and the ministries of foreign affairs, defense, energy and public works.” [Naharnet]

Bank Audi Closes +30 Accounts Belonging to UK Nationals and Close Relatives 
Following a London court’s order for Lebanon’s Bank Audi to transfer funds trapped in the banking sector to a British national client, the Bank has told dozens of its clients that their accounts have been closed and has issued checks for the balances at a notary public. [Reuters]



Lebanon In The Middle Of The Russia And Ukraine Conflict
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “As Amin Salam, the Minister of Economy and Trade indicated, ‘The war in Ukraine has forced the Lebanese state to consider stepping in for the first time in three decades to buy millions of dollars a month of wheat as they seek alternatives to Ukrainian and Russian markets given the ongoing crisis. There is no capacity at the central bank to pay higher prices. It’s now subsidizing wheat at a cost of $390 or $400 a ton, but if international prices increase to $500 a ton then the central bank’s costs increase because it subsidizes wheat 100%.’ This means that at current prices, Lebanon’s central bank is spending around $20 million a month. Customs figures show that in 2020, Lebanon imported 81 per cent of its wheat from Ukraine and 15 per cent from Russia. Salam said that he hoped that the US and others would provide up to $20 million to help Lebanon stockpile its wheat reserves. He said he hoped to reduce the price of bread if a foreign country stepped in to support Lebanon’s food security. ‘We want prices to go down or remain stable. If they go up, it’ll be a disaster.”

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Al Monitor
Children’s Education at Risk in Lebanon Due to Economic Crisis
Andrea Lopez-Tomas

Lopez-Tomas writes, “Around 1.2 million children have seen their education affected or even interrupted since October 2019. ‘During the revolution, a lot of kids stopped going to school. Then the pandemic came, and most of them didn’t have the resources to adapt to online education,’ said Janira Taibo, cofounder of 26 Letters. Despite attending classes, more than 700,000 children are at risk of never returning to a classroom due to rising poverty. ‘We are in a state of panic,’ [Ettie Higgins, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon] told Al-Monitor. ‘The schools have been closed for so long and families had to make difficult decisions.’ Three out of 10 households have had to cut their spending on education.”

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US Department of the Treasury
Media Advisory

“A senior delegation from the U.S. Department of the Treasury concluded a three-day visit to Lebanon on March 2.  The delegation met with members of the Lebanese government, civil society, and the banking sector to reiterate the U.S. government’s commitment to stand with the Lebanese people during this time of economic turmoil . . . The delegation emphasized the need for the Government of Lebanon to implement deep, meaningful reforms prior to the elections.”

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.