Lebanese Merchants Warn of Unprecedented Deflation
The dozens of banners, announcing 80 and 90 percent discounts, on shop windows in Lebanon’s Zalka region failed to attract any clients, amid an unprecedented economic slowdown in the country.
Nicolas Chammas, head of the Beirut Traders Association, said last week that this year’s summer season was the worst, in terms of commercial trade, due to security developments that took place in the country.
Chammas revealed that in 2018, 10 percent of Beirut’s commercial institutions shut down, and that the number was higher is other areas.
He said that the current economic slowdown is mainly due to the budget deficit, the bloated public sector and the crisis in Syria.
He said the recent Labor Ministry’s crackdown on illegal foreign workers was not enough to improve the economic situation in the country.
“There should be radical and quick solutions or else we will witness the biggest crisis not seen in 50 years,” Chammas said.
Both the Labor and the Economy Ministries are trying to pass measures that should contain the crisis.
However, economic experts say that the lack of any national and comprehensive economic plan would not improve the situation.
According to the Labor Ministry, around 123 institutions, owned by foreigners, were closed across the country since July because they lacked the necessary legal work permits.
However, hundreds of stores owned by Lebanese have also closed after failing to pay the rent and other expenses, such as electricity bills.
Elie Yachoui, a Beirut-based economist, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the extreme economic slump is reflected in this year’s zero economic growth, which means the absence of consumption.
As a solution, he suggested that Lebanon introduce change in the policy of the Central Bank’s increased interest rates, which hit consumption, investment and the economic growth, and put an end to the political shares inside state institutions.