Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Thursday sounded the alarm over the economic situation in Lebanon, saying that the country's wealth is being shared by a political cartel whose practices are now jeopardizing the economy.
“It is pointless to bury our heads in the sand to avoid seeing the truth. We must acknowledge the problem and come up with the right solutions,” he said during a round table hosted by the Kataeb's Social and Economic Council at the party's headquarter in Saifi.
Gemayel said that the Kataeb party has somehow remained silent over the past period in wait for solutions to be brought forward to the manifold challenges facing the country, deploring the absence of any sense of responsibility towards the current status quo.
“The country is living in constant procrastination. They keep trying to solve the problem itself, while turning a blind eye to the reasons behind it,” he said, adding that the concept of accountability has been dashed in Lebanon.
"The country is in a state of erosion that is leading to constitutional violations, loss of international support, chaos and lack of seriousness in dealing with major files."
During the round table aimed at discussing the prospects of a stagflation in Lebanon, Gemayel stressed the need for "drastic" solutions amid an increasing inflation, a growing unemployment rate and a decreasing growth.
"The state's expenditures have risen by $950 million compared to 2017. The deficit has increased by 127% amid fears that it will transcend $7 billion. Unemployment rate has reached 30% and prices have increased by 7%," Gemayel explained.
The Kataeb leader deemed the much-anticipated solution as possible, noting that Lebanon has assets that enable it to rise again, provided that there is a will and determination to build a strong and prosperous country.
"The solution starts with forming a government of specialists, ending random employment in the public sector, hiring an international audit firm to assess the ministries' needs, addressing tax evasion which amounts to $4.2 billion and establishing state administration buildings on state-owned properties to cut unnecessary rentals," Gemayel pinpointed.
“Investments must be stimulated in the productive sectors and banks have to set reform requirements for the State to meet before getting any loans," he added.
The Kataeb leader also called for open-ended meetings of the parliamentary blocs in order to defuse "unjustified" sectarian tensions, reiterating the importance of consolidating the state's decision-making power, steering Lebanon clear of regional conflicts, acknowledging the Army as the only legitimate armed force and adopting administrative decentralization.
Gemayel said that many consider that the Kataeb party committed a mistake by speaking up the truth, standing against corruption and shady deals, disapproving transient and absurd alliances, confronting implicit naturalization schemes and defying all forms of injustice.
"The truth is that we made a mistake at our expense, not to the detriment of the country and its people."
“It is the Kataeb's unwavering principle to serve the nation's interests, not its own, and to love without expecting anything in return," Gemayel affirmed.
"We saw many of the political parties that considered themselves to be winners fading away, while we are still here," he said. "I was once advised to get on the authority's train, or else the Kataeb party will continue to stand alone. Today, we are all witnessing where this train is heading. For our part, we have determined the destination points that we are seeking to reach. We just want to build a real state."
"Being an independent political force, we are ready to work hand in hand with any party or person that is aspiring to the same change-seeking, reformist project that we are adopting," Gemayel concluded.