National Bloc on ration card: The government is crippled, powerless, and hiding behind the lack of external funding

The Lebanese National Bloc Party released the following statement:

Prime Minister Najib Mikati surprised the Lebanese people by declaring the absence of external financing for the ration card, while the World Bank had allocated the amount of 246 million dollars to support the poorest families, which has not been spent yet, and the Lebanese government recently received the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

However, the priorities of this government are clearly elsewhere.

It is distracted by settling regional accounts and obstructing judge Tarek Bitar’s investigation in the port explosion crime, although the government was formed on the promise of easing the suffering of the Lebanese people by providing them with the ration card after lifting subsidies on fuel, a large number of medicines, and medical supplies.

Not only that, Mikati refrained also from paying the dues in US dollars to families, as demanded by the World Bank.

What the Prime Minister did not mention is that the failure to ratify the ration card is not due to the lack of funding, but rather to party disputes over quotas and their distribution mechanisms, particularly between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Amal Movement.

The Lebanese National Bloc Party considers that immediate solutions should be implemented as follows:

  • Take action to pass immediately in the Parliament the required amendments to the World Bank emergency social assistance program law (suspended since mid-January 2021).
  • Pay the social aid in foreign currency (USD) in order to avoid injecting huge amounts of the national currency in the market, thus avoiding another price inflation, and to prevent a decrease in the purchasing power of cash transfers amid high fluctuations of the exchange rate.
  • Develop clear mechanisms to distribute aid, based on objective and transparent criteria, instead of serving clientelist networks and political purposes.
  • Reduce the accumulated burden on citizens by reconsidering the funds allocated to the health and education systems in the budget as part of a comprehensive plan, and by developing a contingency plan for public transport and enhancing the public transport network by restoring and reorganizing it.

The ration card has only a temporary calming effect against the living standards decline, as more than 70% of the Lebanese people are now below the poverty line. However, a longer solution is to develop and implement a comprehensive economic vision and plan, as well as restoring the confidence of the international community and investors.

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