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Lebanon's Economic Fallout Worsens

Lebanon's Economic Fallout Worsens

Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 - 07:00
A gas station closes during a protest against tight supply of dollars in Beirut, Lebanon September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat

At the beat of a dollar liquidity crunch, Lebanon’s worsened economic crisis inflicted new fallouts on several sectors, with further depressions seen in the educational sector and in bakeries and gas stations.

Schools and teachers slammed on Monday last week’s announcement by Education Minister Tarek Al-Majzoub, who proposed canceling the 2020 round of high school exams in all branches and the promotions of all students are promoted to the higher grade according to regulations.

Schools fear the decision would push parents to abstain from paying tuition and therefore, negatively impact their budgets and salaries.

“The Minister’s decision was a surprise and the biggest surprise is the fact that students would automatically be promoted to higher grades,” Head of Teachers Union Rodolphe Abboud said Monday.

He explained that Majzoub’s announcement presented a solution for students and parents. “However, the problem remains unsolved for teachers and schools, particularly following reports about the displacement of a large number of students from private to public schools or between private schools,” Abboud said.

On a different note, Lebanon’s bread distributors returned to the street on Monday and held a sit-in in front of the Economy Ministry.

There are 2,400 bread distributors in Lebanon. They are currently receiving a bundle of bread at LL1,500 from bakeries instead of LL1,200, a rise that would prevent them from making any profits.

Economy Minister Raoul Nehmeh had refused that the price of a bundle of bread increase in shops, saying the Central Bank subsidized wheat.

Also, gas station owners announced that their future was jeopardized by the current crisis, while Jean Abboud, head of the syndicate of travel agencies owners, said only 10 percent of the sector was currently operating.

All those crises would directly affect tens of thousands of employees in the private sector, including bank employees, particularly after Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said the number of banks in Lebanon will have to be cut in half.

On Monday, a number of protesters and activists rallied outside the Palace of Justice in Beirut and the Social Affairs Ministry to protest against the stifling economic situation and the simmering daily living conditions, pressing for their livelihood rights.

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