Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said today that any step to raise subsidies for basic commodities would lead to a “social explosion”, and he harshly criticized the Central Bank of Lebanon.
In a speech broadcast on television this evening, Diab – who resigned two months ago after the Beirut port explosion – said that what has been spent on importing medicines, foodstuffs, flour and fuel has reached about $ 4 billion since the beginning of this year.
Diab criticized the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, stressing that the central bank’s intention to lift the subsidies will have disastrous results for Lebanon and its people.
He said, “If such a step is taken, the Bank of Lebanon alone will bear its responsibility and repercussions with those who support it in this decision.”
He added that in the current financial situation of the Lebanese state it is possible to adopt the rule of “rationalizing support” so that the Lebanese people who really need it benefit.
Diab accused the Central Bank of Lebanon of “financing and supporting the financial policies of successive governments, which were based on wasting state funds and depositors in the banking sector.”
An official source told Reuters yesterday that Lebanon has foreign exchange reserves estimated at $ 1.8 billion that can be made available to support basic food and other imports, but it may seek to keep them for another 6 months by canceling some commodity subsidies.
Parliamentary consultations are scheduled to begin on October 15th to choose a new prime minister, in an effort to push the divided Lebanese political elites to move towards forming the next government.
And he called on the political leaders to form a government quickly “because the country cannot wait another two months.”