, 19 tweets, 9 min read
The elephant in the room that prompted #Lebanon's protests. A Whatsapp tax? Who came with this silly idea? thenational.ae/business/econo… #IMF
You don't tax a population without first providing services. The Lebanese state doesn't provide basic services. However, the #IMF has one size fits all policy to make the state collect taxes when it lends money, and it doesn't care about other aspects of the economy.
Let's talk about services the Lebanese state provides to its citizens:
Water? Barely
Health care? A big No
Internet? Slowest in the world
Electricity? No
Infrastructure? No
Qs arise to where did international loan money go & why shld citizens pay taxes w/o receiving services?
And I still didn't mention Education, the most important service of all. The public education system in #Lebanon needs an overhaul is the country is to offer its youth an adequate education that will allow them to be competitive in higher education and the workplace.
The dire state of the economy, debt and corruption in #Lebanon is not new. It exists since the end of the civil war when gov after gov indulged in personal gain, ignoring the affairs of the country & basic governance. All this didn't bother foreign donors.
An economist who worked for a foreign NGO in #Lebanon for #March14 Sanyura's gov told me he was offered a fat job by the gov but refused to work directly for them because if he did he wouldn't be able to work in an international setting again because of the corruption.
All this was known 20 years ago by all foreign donors and lenders, but it didn't bother them. #Lebanon
However, when the CEDRE conference to help #Lebanon's economy, rattled further by the wave of Syrian refugees, met in paris in 2018, it pledged $11billions but under strict conditions. One could have expected more lenient lending given the new circumstances. What changed in 2018?
I'll try to answer this question later to focus on the #IMF for now.
IMF became active in lending to Arab countries in the 80s, Morocoo, Egypt, Jordan & Tunisia. It demanded relaxation of trade barriers, reduction of subsidies, restructuring of taxes & labour market deregulation. eurodad.org/files/pdf/56b0…
"In those states, unemployment, poverty, and inequality were much worse in the late 1990s than earlier in the decade." #IMF #Tunisia #Egypt #Morocco #Jordan
#IMF "privatisation policies ... meant to increase productivity resulted instead in a strong concentration
of economic wealth ... increased corruption, impoverishment of the working class & middle classes, and a deepening of inequality... giving rise to a deep sense of injustice"
#IMF policies aim at economic growth. However, after the Arab Spring revealed the extent of disenfranchisement & poverty in countries under IMF policies, Lagarde, then IMF head, admitted they did not pay enough attention to how "the fruits of economic growth were being shared"
After 2011, the #IMF made an effort, at least in its statements about Arab countries to which it lends money, to include social concerns like job-creation and inclusive growth imf.org/external/pubs/
Did the #IMF change its approach after having made its mea culpa for destabilising policies that brought corruption, unemployment and greater inequality to Arab countries, in the wake of the Arab Spring? No, it continued to do business as usual. eurodad.org/files/pdf/56b0…
In #Tunisia, "The #IMF continued to sponsor the same policies they promoted during the Ben Ali regime through privatisation of state resources, open capital markets, de-valued currency, wage repression, lifting of subsidies and cutting government spending for social programs"
A 2010 IMF assessment of #Egypt, a poster child for #IMF policies in the 90s, 1yr before Tahrir, concluded: “estimates suggest strong growth during 2005-2008 contributed to a 14% decline in the proportion living below the (upper) poverty line" Closer scrutiny reveals diff picture
I was in #Egypt in 2009. I didn't need an assessment to feel the poverty & despair of the population in Cairo's Khan el Khalili. I remember warning an acquaintance who works for the #IMF at the time about the situation in Egypt. How could this have escaped them?
I know how, to do their assessment, they looked at numbers and met officials. They didn't visit the souk. #Egypt #IMF
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