Lebanon’s Defense Minister Went Off On The Govt

Defense Minister Criticized The Lebanese Gov't's Performance
Al-Arabiya

During the last Lebanese Cabinet session, Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister Zeina Akar voiced sharp criticism of the general performance of the government.

After calling for “immediate and rapid measures” to counter the collapse that is deteriorating the living conditions in Lebanon, Minister Akar acknowledged that the officials, herself included, are “trapped.”

“We have duties to perform; it is true that we are besieged, but this does not mean that we have to stand in front of a dead wall,” she asserted.

The minister insisted that the Lebanese government must have an alternative plan in addition to the financial rescue plan, which is “running into problems.”

With the Lebanese pound rapidly depreciating against the U.S. dollar, Akar pointed out that the Cabinet’s solutions should be “not only technical but also political,” implying reforms.

“We have to implement reforms, whether or not they will get us [financial] aid,” she added. These reforms, as Akar said, are essential ones that serve to “build the state.”

The issues that she specified include government-rented buildings, councils and official bodies that no longer serve a purpose, and preparing public schools to receive “thousands of students whose families are no longer able to place them in private schools.”

Moreover, she urged the government to finalize the Economy Ministry’s food basket project and “support the ministers of industry, agriculture, and economy to carry out the reforms they have proposed.”

One opportunity that Lebanon should use to its advantage is the global decline in the prices of oil, according to the official.

“We also should have bought quantities of oil at very low prices and store them, yet this is not what happened, even though we are still able to do that today.”

Finally, “we must prevent, with all our executive power, the conversion of people’s deposits in banks into shares,” Zeina Akar concluded.

On that note, the LBP/USD exchange rate was recently changed for the withdrawal of deposits in Lebanese banks.

Conflicts within the government impeding resolutions of crises continue, with the latest is the Finance Minister refusing to support an in-depth forensic audit of the Central Bank.