The Minister of Economy and Trade Mansour Bteish described a decision by the owners of bakeries to strike on Monday as extortion of the Lebanese citizens.
In a statement on Saturday, Bteish said: “With the determination of bakery owners to adhere to the declared strike on Monday, without a convincing reason, I am obliged to confirm what is self-evident and we will not accept blackmailing people for their livelihood.”
“The intimidation is not based on any scientific data. It is an attempt to exploit the conditions to achieve additional profits at the expense of the poor,” he added.
The minister said that arguments regarding the dollar exchange rate were invalid.
“I conveyed [to bakery owners] the commitment of the Governor of Banque du Liban (BDL) to secure the dollar according to the official rate and gave them the name of the concerned person at the BDL,” he remarked.
“But the owners’ insistence on holding a strike can only be understood as blackmail,” Bteish concluded.
A meeting by Lebanese millers on Saturday discussed the crisis resulting from the exchange of the Lebanese pound to the US dollar and problems encountered in the import of wheat.
The meeting underlined the burdens incurred by the bakery owners as a result of price differences due to the shortage of USD in the majority of banks, as they said.
“The problem will be more severe if it is not addressed quickly before stocks of wheat run out,” the owners warned.