Lebanon: Bakeries Suspend Strike After Promises to Resolve Dollar Crisis
Bakery owners suspended their strike on Monday after receiving promises by Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resolve a crisis resulting from their obligation to pay the price of wheat in US dollars.
Hariri met on Monday with a delegation from the Syndicate of Bakery Owners headed by Kazem Ibrahim.
Ibrahim said the delegation explained to the prime minister problems currently facing the bakeries.
“He listened to our demands and asked us to give him 48-hours to solve this matter. We fully trust Prime Minister Hariri and therefore, we tell our colleagues that we suspended the strike, and we will start working from today so that things return to normal tomorrow morning,” he told reporters following the meeting.
The Minister of Economy and Trade Mansour Bteish had described the millers’ decision to hold a strike on Monday as extortion of the Lebanese citizens.
He said on Saturday that an independent EU-funded study had recently found that bakeries make between 10 to 12 percent profit on each bundle of bread they sell. They also sell other products with a higher profit margin, he added.
“Consequently, the intimidation by bakeries is not based on any scientific data, but rather is an attempt to exploit the conditions to achieve additional profits at the expense of the poor,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical sector has also hinted at escalatory steps if the dollar payment crisis is not resolved.
In comments on Monday, Karim Gebara, Chairman of the Lebanese Pharmaceutical Importers Association, said the sector was not threatening to go on strike but warning against “running out of stock when it becomes impossible to pay to the source.”