The “Lebanese National Bloc Party” refused the proposal of the government based on the economic reforms plan presented by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, arguing that people have lost trust in the current ruling class and in its capacity to implement reforms and fight corruption. The Party mentioned that the proposals aiming at solving the economic and living standards crisis are a basket of non-coordinated decisions and are not integrated in a holistic salvation plan.
In a statement, the Party added that the solution to this crisis starts with the formation of a government of independent experts (whose high number our country prides itself in) with widened prerogatives and with the following priorities:
In the same context, different pension and health coverage systems in the public sector should be standardized and streamlined.
Finally, one of the most important reforms in this regard is the shift towards a digital government.
Indirect taxes must also be reduced; noting that they currently account for 70% of the total of taxes, and are borne by the middle and lower classes.
The Party stressed the utmost importance on the adoption of the "AFAAL" law to eradicate extreme poverty and save about 250’000 citizens living on less than 8,600 Lebanese pounds a day proposed by the National Bloc.
The Party confirmed the urgency for “confessional parties” to hold a round of dialogue to resolve essential disagreements such as the strategy of defense, our foreign relations, and the sectarian system.
The National Bloc questioned why Prime Minister Hariri's document is not inscribed in a larger strategy for reforms, while the government had already consulted dozens of specialists in Lebanon and abroad. The Party described the proposals presented as “populist”, and as a failed attempt at reducing the population’s indignation.
The Party addressed some examples of loopholes in the cabinet reforms decisions. The Party pointed out that the paper proposes a budget with a deficit worth $ 3.4 billion endured by the Central Bank and banks. This proposal does not inspire confidence given past experiences that compensated for the lack of profit on commercial banks, resulting from the state borrowing with low interests, through the application of financial engineering.
The Party indicated that activating the role of the administration of public tenders and appointing a board of directors for the “Electricité Du Liban (EDL)” and an “Energy Regulatory Authority” will not be effective as long as the confessional parties have significant influence on these institutions. The most relevant indicators of this influence are the recent judicial and administrative appointments.
As to the looted public money recovery law, the Party questioned the credibility of the process if the authority accused of such looting is the one to endorse and implement it.
Regarding the privatization of the private sector in the sectors of telecommunications, “Middle East Airlines” and the “Casino du Liban”, the Party pointed out that these sectors are the most profitable and questioned the need for such privatization.
The Party cautioned that none of the proposals addressed the three most urgent issues, notably the budget deficit, the electricity deficit, and the cost of public debt. The Party highlighted the notable absence of any mention of public administration reform “owned” by the confessional parties, noting that this is not surprising since it enhances clientelism.
In this context, the Party signaled that there is no plan to ease the burden of public debt, which is also not surprising, as high interests and public debt serve a group of political actors linked to banks.
The Party considered that all previous plans to reduce the electricity deficit remained a source of polarization between the confessional parties due to quarries over quotas and refusal to build control mechanisms.
The Party pointed out that the proposals do not advance any action to expand the social safety net, especially considering the current circumstances and the citizens’ needs for these services.
The Party reiterated its position that confessional parties consolidate their power through networks of clientelism and power-sharing quotas which in turn result in corruption and poverty. This is done precisely to keep citizens hostage of the system, and confessional parties have neither the intention nor the ability to dismantle it.