National Bloc: Stop smuggling before you stop subsidies... We are not going to pay your mafias’ bills

The Lebanese National Bloc Party released the following statement:

In the absence of a plan to rationalize subsidies, and with the ongoing smuggling of subsidized goods across the border, parties-sects' recklessness and protection of smuggling operations that citizens are once again suffering from, and the continued depletion of depositors' money, the National Bloc is proposing some measures that may lead to crucial solutions if taken immediately. However, if the status quo remains unaddressed, the citizens who are already paying the price from their livelihoods and lifetime earnings, will eventually bear the brunt of the state’s failure in managing this crisis.

To begin, it is important for the Lebanese to know that the cost of importing fuel reached 3 billion dollars in 2015, while it was close to 6.5 billion dollars in 2019 despite the economic downturn. In other words, a total of around 3 billion dollars was being smuggled. As for the cost of subsidizing all our fuel imports, it amounted to 1.4 billion dollars, meaning that the value of subsidizing smuggled fuel is 700 million dollars, from citizens' pockets.

On the other hand, Lebanon imports thousands of various types of subsidized medicines, while the World Health Organization recognizes only 3,000 of them. Lebanon also imports more than 10 types of the same medicine at varying prices that can reach 4 times the lowest price. It would be better in this case to limit imports and subsidies to the two least expensive medicines. Security forces reports documented confirmed cases of smuggling medicine to Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq. It is necessary, in this respect, to promote competition and break the monopoly in importing medicines, which helps lowering the total bill. Monopolizing medicine is the only interpretation possible that its price per capita in Lebanon is twice as high as in Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

In light of these facts and others, we reject the constant threat of stopping subsidies, while officials can take immediate measures to reduce the burden on the treasury. The Lebanese will not accept to pay the bills of smuggling mafias protected by the parties-sects, which also included subsidized food to their trafficking. Therefore, the state must completely end this monopoly that is exacerbating the crisis and aggravating its impact on citizens.

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