Maronite Patriarch Addresses ‘Shameful Delay’ in Cabinet Formation Lebanon’s Banks Confront Politicians in Protest Against Lawsuits and Arrests President Aoun Reportedly ‘Holding Off’ on Banking Secrecy Law
Maronite Patriarch Addresses ‘Shameful Delay’ in Cabinet Formation In his weekly sermon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi said, “Isn’t it shameful that authorities make efforts to reach an agreement with Israel on maritime borders but refrain from forming a government? Has it become easier for them to agree with Israel than to agree on a government among the Lebanese? . . . Isn’t the split in political power in Lebanon, and of the parties … the basis of the [country’s] political, economy, financial and social decay?” [L’Orient Today]
Three actions by the government and parliament will determine whether Lebanon’s leaders understand the significance of the potential default of their country: passage of necessary reforms to close on an IMF deal; approval of the maritime border issue with Israel; and reformist and opposition parliamentarians unifying in support of a presidential candidate committed to addressing the needs of the people of Lebanon. The coming weeks will reveal whether Lebanon’s leaders put country ahead of politics.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Lebanon’s Banks Confront Politicians in Protest Against Lawsuits and Arrests ABL, Lebanon’s banking association, announced that 49 in-country banks will begin striking on Monday. This comes in response to what the association describes as “populist, harmful stances.” The banks have been the subject of criticism for what critics have described as efforts to evade responsibility for the financial crisis and shift blame to the state. [Arab News]
So bankers are upset that people are physically demonstrating their distrust of the banks and the country’s continuing slide into poverty? While I know some good individuals who are bankers in Lebanon, it is clear that their professional class allowed and abetted the “Ponzi Scheme” of the Central Bank to enrich their stockholders and large depositors. Yes, they were doing their jobs, but what about the thousands of ordinary people who now have to pay the price for those shady transactions? Bankers are part of the elite who year after year allowed the government to spend funds without much thought to the consequences – just look at the exchange rates and budget deficits. Time to pay for your transgressions. Just read this article on the latest World Bank report on Lebanon.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
President Aoun Reportedly ‘Holding Off’ on Banking Secrecy Law According to Naharnet, “President Michel Aoun is holding back on signing the amended banking secrecy law pending answers from the Lebanese team that is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund, al-Jadeed TV reported on Monday.” [Naharnet]
It’s not taking sides to ask why? After months of delay and reports and assessments by the teams on both sides, why is this legislation still sitting around? Already two of the three “presidents” have approved the legislation, so why haven’t the lawyers intervened previously? Does the government understand the notion of “confidence or trust building? Do they expect to win hearts and minds by continuing to come up with objections to transparency and integrity? Mr. President, please explain your position so that we can understand how to move forward.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed 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.