Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘economy

For a plan to salvaging the economy and financial liquidity in Lebanon?

The main problem is to agree on the urgent priority list

The current mass upheaval was 3 years late: Lebanon downhill had actively started in 2015 as this non-productive State experienced shortage in its Ponzi scheme to distribute money for the militia/mafia “leaders” and their subordinates in the State institutions

This mass upheaval got conscious of the precarity of the situation as 40% of the university graduates were unable to find any job and also unable to find jobs overseas to hide the illusion of a stable system..

Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. November 2019

من أجل خطّة إنقاذ اقتصاديّة طارئة في لبنان

اجتمعت مجموعة من الخبراء الاقتصاديّين والقانونيّين والعلماء السياسيّين اللبنانيّين في الأوّل من تشرين الثاني 2019 لمناقشة عدد من التوصيات بشأن الطرق الأنسب لمعالجة التحدّي الاقتصاديّ والماليّ الذي تواجهه البلاد في هذه الفترة.

ورأت المجموعة أنّه يتعيّن على لبنان التصرّف بسرعة وحزم لتفادي الانهيار الماليّ والاقتصاديّ.

فالتأخّر في معالجة الوضع قد يؤدّي إلى انخفاض حاد في قيمة الليرة اللبنانية، وبالتالي إلى المزيد من التضخّم والبطالة والفقر والتدهور في الخدمات العامّة الأساسيّة.

استنتاجاتنا الرئيسية الموجزة أدناه تتعلق بالحاجة الملحة لتطوير حزمة إنقاذ اقتصادية شاملة، يتم تنفيذها بطريقة منسقة،

وتشمل التالي:
• إدارة دقيقة للاحتياطيات الأجنبيّة المتناقصة بسرعة لحماية الليرة اللبنانيّة من خلال تدابير متعددة، من بينها اتخاذ إجراءات صارمة لضبط تهريب رؤوس الأموال

• إعادة هيكلة ماليّة مصحوبة بخطط موثوقة لمكافحة الفساد• سياسات اجتماعيّة جديدة لحماية الشرائح الأكثر تأثّراً بالأزمة الحاليّة، 

• خطّة متفاوض عليها لخفض الدين تشمل تقاسماً عادلاً لأعباء هذا الدين بين فئات المجتمع، 

• آليّة مراقبة تتيح للمواطنين والمواطنات ممارسة الضغوط من أجل تطبيق الإصلاحات في ظلّ تعزيز آليات الرقابة الرسمية. 

وإذا كانت الحاجة ماسة اليوم لتشكيل حكومة ذات مصداقية يمكنها أن توحي بالثقة، فإن بعض الإجراءات التي تمت مناقشتها أدناه لا يمكن أن تنتظر ويجب ألا تكون رهينة للأحداث السياسية.

وعلى حكومة تصريف الأعمال تشكيل “خلية أزمات” للتعامل الفوري مع الأمور الأكثر إلحاحًا.

على المدى البعيد، ترى المجموعة أنّ الاقتصاد الوطنيّ عاجز عن الاستفادة من كامل إمكاناته وأنّه من الضروريّ اعتماد نظام حوكمة أكثر فعالية للسماح بتصدير السلع والخدمات بدلاً من هجرة المواطنين.

وتعتبر المجموعة أنّ اعتماد نموذج نموّ شامل من شأنه أن يساهم ليس فقط في تنمية السياحة والخدمات الماليّة، لا بل أيضاً التصنيع والتكنولوجيا والزراعة المسؤولة والإنتاج الثقافيّ.

وينبغي أن تكون العدالة الاجتماعيّة والمساواة بين الجنسين وحماية البيئة في صلب هذا النموذج، إلى جانب المنافسة العادلة والابتكار والانفتاح على العالم، خصوصاً على الجاليات اللبنانيّة الكبيرة في الخارج.

أزمة ليست بجديدة

يعود سبب الاختلال الماليّ المتصاعد اليوم إلى عاملين اثنين هما

أوّلاً، تزايد عبء خدمة الدين العامّ وإعادة تمويله

وثانياً، الانخفاض الحادّ في صافي تدفّقات رؤوس الأموال الواردة التي كانت تساهم في تمويل عجز الحساب الجاري وخدمة الدين المقوّم بالدولار.

إنّ هذين العاملين مرتبطان أحدهما بالآخر ارتباطاً وثيقاً ويتسبّبان بنضوب احتياطيات النقد الأجنبيّ بسرعة بما أنّ التخوّف من حصول انهيار ماليّ يؤدّي إلى انخفاض التدفّقات الواردة ويحفّز هروب رؤوس الأموال.

ويؤدّي تراجع صافي التدفّقات الواردة إلى ارتفاع مخاطر الدين العامّ، ما يزيد من صعوبة إعادة تمويله بشروط مقبولة.

وتتجلّى الأزمة الماليّة المتفاقمة في الزيادة السريعة في أسعار الفائدة (15% وأكثر، مع أسعار أعلى للمبادلات الأخيرة التي يقوم بها مصرف لبنان،

وهي عمليّات معقّدة تهدف إلى جذب ودائع بالعملات الأجنبيّة إلى البلاد) وانخفاض قيمة الليرة بسرعة في السوق غير النظاميّة (وصولاً إلى 1800 ليرة للدولار الواحد خلال الشهر الماضي)

وتسارع التضخّم بنسبة 5% على الأقلّ خلال الشهر الماضي على صعيد السلع الاستهلاكيّة الأساسيّة (بناءً على التقديرات الأوليّة لمؤسسة البحوث والاستشارات).

وفي حال عدم اتّخاذ تدابير تصحيحيّة، ستستمرّ قيمة الليرة اللبنانيّة في الانخفاض في المرحلة المقبلة وقد تخرج عن السيطرة إذا تواصل نضوب الاحتياطيات.

في الواقع، بدأ الوضع الماليّ يتأزّم قبل ثورة 17 تشرين الاول، ما دفع مصرف لبنان إلى البدء بتقنين الدولار في أوائل أيلول. وتفاقم الوضع لاحقاً عندما لم يعد الشعب راضياً عن النهج المعتمد لمعالجة الاختلال من خلال زيادة الضرائب غير المباشرة وتقليص الخدمات العامّة نظراً إلى تدهور الوضع الاجتماعيّ إلى حدّ كبير.

فنسبة الفقر تقارب الـ 30% (بحسب تقديرات البنك الدوليّ) ونسبة البطالة مرتفعة(40%) وهجرة الشباب الماهرين تسجّل أرقاماً قياسيّة.

لكنّ المتظاهرين أيضاً لم يقتنعوا بحزمة الإصلاحات الأخيرة التي اعتمدتها الحكومة في 21 تشرين الأول.

فمع أنّ الخطّة تتضمّن عناصر جيّدة، كالحدّ من خسائر شركة كهرباء لبنان، إلا أنّه ثمّة شكوك بشأن استعداد الحكومة لتنفيذ إصلاح مطروح منذ سنوات عدّة.

ويُعتبر فرض الضرائب على المصارف خطوة في الاتّجاه الصحيح أيضاً، وإن كانت الضريبة المتوقّعة (600 مليار ليرة لبنانيّة) قابلة للتطبيق لمرّة واحدة وصغيرة نسبةً إلى الأرباح الطائلة التي حقّقها القطاع المصرفيّ في السنوات القليلة الماضية (2,6 مليارات دولار سنة 2018).

لكنّ تمويل العجز في الخطّة الحكوميّة يعتمد في أغلبه على المصرف المركزيّ المكلّف بخفض خدمة الدين العامّ إلى النصف.

في الواقع، إنّها دعوة من الحكومة إلى المصرف المركزيّ لطباعة الأموال، ما قد يؤدّي إلى التضخّم وإلى مزيد من الضغوط على الليرة اللبنانيّة.

في هذا الإطار، ترى مجموعة الخبراء أنّ خطة الإصلاح الحكوميّة غير كافية وتعتمد على سعر الصرف إلى حدّ كبير، ما سيلحق الضرر في الدرجة الأولى بالأُسر ذات الدخل المنخفض والمتوسّط.

حماية الليرة اللبنانية على المدى القريب

ممّا لا شكّ فيه أنّ انخفاض قيمة الليرة بشكل كبير سيؤدّي إلى تخفيف عبء الدين من خلال تقليص القيمة الحقيقيّة للدين المقوّم بالليرة والذي يشكّل حوالي 60% من مجموع الدين العامّ.

ومع أنّ هذه الوسيلة هي إحدى الوسائل الممكنة لمعالجة عبء الدين المفرط، بشكل متعمّد أو غير متعمّد، إلا أنّها تستتبع تداعيات اجتماعيّة كبيرة تتمثّل بالقضاء على صناديق التقاعد ومدّخرات الطبقة الوسطى وانخفاض الأجور بشكل ملحوظ.

ومن شأن هذه الخطوة أيضاً أن تتسبّب بإفلاس شركات عدّة مديونة بالدولار، ما يؤدّي إلى ارتفاع معدّل البطالة وإضعاف القطاع المصرفيّ وإلحاق الضرر بآفاق النموّ المستقبليّة.

وبالتالي، قد يحتاج لبنان إلى خفض قيمة الليرة بطريقة معتدلة ومنضبطة كجزء من أجندة تهدف إلى تحفيز النموّ من أجل تعزيز تنافسيّة الصادرات المحليّة، شرط ألا تكون هذه هي الوسيلة الرئيسيّة المعتمدة لمعالجة عبء الدين المفرط.

في هذا السياق، توصي مجموعة الخبراء بحماية الليرة على المدى القريب لكي يتسنّى للقوى السياسيّة والاجتماعيّة الوقت الكافي لصياغة خطط سياسيّة وماليّة واجتماعيّة واقتصاديّة قادرة على معالجة التحدّيات الهائلة التي تواجهها البلاد. وتقرّ المجموعة بأنّ الثمن الذي سيدفعه لبنان مقابل حماية الليرة قد يكون غالياً جداً قبل استعادة ثقة الأسواق،

لكنّ السماح بانخفاض قيمة الليرة بطريقة غير منظّمة سيؤدّي إلى تفاقم الأزمة الاجتماعيّة. لذلك، توصي المجموعة أيضاً بالاستفادة من الوقت القصير المكتسب لا لتفادي التغيير، بل لتحديد التدابير اللازمة الطارئة والطموحة بطريقة مسؤولة اجتماعيّاً (انظر أدناه).

وترى المجموعة أنّ الوسيلة الفضلى لحماية قيمة الليرة هي بتعزيز مصداقيّة البلد بسرعة من خلال إطلاق الإصلاحات اللازمة في أقرب وقت ممكن. ففي حال التأخّر في اتّخاذ التدابير اللازمة وانخفاض الاحتياطيات الأجنبيّة إلى مستويات تهدّد قدرة لبنان على استيراد السلع الاساسيّة (كالغذاء والدواء والوقود)، قد يصبح من المستحيل الاستمرار في خدمة الدين الخارجيّ.

وفي هذا الإطار، تدعو مدفوعات الدين المرتقبة في 28 تشرين الثاني 2019 وفي الربع الثاني من العام 2020 إلى القلق.

الإسراع في وضع خطّة تعديل ماليّ موثوق

تشمل السياسات الضروريّة على المدى القريب لاستقرار الوضع الماليّ الاتّفاق سريعاً على تخفيض كبير للنفقات غير المجدية والمرتبطة بالفساد والهدر وسوء الإدارة، بالترافق مع إصلاح عاجل لقطاع الكهرباء. وينبغي أن تتزامن هذه التدابير مع قرارات تقضي بتنفيذ الإصلاحات المؤسسيّة التي أرجئت لفترة طويلة.

فمع أنّ هذه الإصلاحات لن تكون لها آثار إلا على المديين المتوسط والبعيد، إلا أنّها ضروريّة لتعزيز مصداقيّة الحكومة. وعلى صعيد النفقات،

ينبغي إطلاق الجهود لاستعادة الأموال العامّة المنهوبة والبدء بإعادة هيكلة المؤسسات العامّة، بما في ذلك دمج المؤسّسات الفائضة أو إلغاؤها، وخفض أجور كبار الموظّفين الحكوميّين وامتيازاتهم.

أمّا على صعيد الإيرادات الحكوميّة، فيتعيّن على الحكومة توحيد نظام ضريبة الدخل وجعله أكثر تصاعديّة، بالإضافة إلى معالجة التهرّب الضريبيّ وتوسيع القاعدة الضريبيّة في الوقت نفسه من خلال إزالة الإعفاءات الضريبيّة لقطاعات وشركات معيّنة.

إعادة جدولة الدين

مع أنّ الجهود المذكورة أعلاه ضروريّة لتحسين جودة النفقات وخفض العجز الماليّ، إلا أنّها غير كافية لتحقيق ثبات في تطوّر الدين العامّ. ووفقاً لحسابات صندوق النقد الدوليّ، يتطلّب خروج لبنان من أزمة الدين الحاليّة فائضاً ماليّاً أوّلياً بنسبة 5% في السنة لمدّة 20 سنة متتالية (المادة 4 لصندوق النقد الدوليّ، 2019)،

علماً أنّ خطة التقشّف المفرط هذه لم تطبَّق في أيّ بلد في العالم وهي غير واقعيّة على الإطلاق.

وتلمّح بعض الجهات الاقتصاديّة الفاعلة إلى إمكانيّة الحدّ من الضغوط الماليّة الحاليّة من خلال تقليص خدمة الدين بدلاً من خفض الدين بحدّ ذاته – عن طريق خفض الفائدة على الدين العامّ. وتُعتبر هذه خطوةً في الاتجّاه الصحيح قد تخفّف الضغوط الحاليّة على الليرة.

لكن بغية تحرير الاعتمادات من أجل استخدامها بطريقة مثمرة وبغية تمهيد الطريق لسياسة ماليّة أكثر شمولية، لا بدّ من أن يكون المستقبل أكثر وضوحاً بما أنّ الاستثمارات العامة والخاصّة تتطلّب فترة طويلة من التخطيط لجذبهاّ.

لذلك، ترى مجموعة الخبراء أنّ الإجراءات المؤقتة الضرورية راهناً وفي المستقبل القريب لن تكون كافية على المدى البعيد.

وتعتبر المجموعة أنّه ينبغي النظر اليوم في خفض الدين. يتخطى الدين العامّ اللبنانيّ 150% من الناتج المحليّ الإجماليّ فيما يُعتبر الحدّ الآمن عالمياً 50% من هذا الناتج.

وستكون هذه المرّة الأولى التي يلجأ فيها لبنان إلى خفض الدين وينبغي أن تكون المرّة الأخيرة، وأن تتبع العملية معايير واضحة على صلة بالظروف القائمة وتقرّ المجموعة بأنّ هذه الخطوة ستؤثّر على سمعة لبنان كوجهة لتدفّق رؤوس الأموال.

لذلك، ينبغي بذل أقصى الجهود الممكنة للحدّ من التداعيات على “سمعة البلاد” هذه. في المقابل، ينبغي خفض الدين بشكل عميق للغاية للتأكّد من عدم الاضطرار إلى اتّخاذ هذه الخطوة مجدداً في المستقبل.

ثانياً، يجب أن يراعي الحلّ المطروح لمعالجة عبء الدين توزيعَ عبء الخسائر بشكل عادل بين حاملي الديون الوطنية والدولية من الدين العام، عبر تحميل العبء الأكبر لأولئك الذين استفادوا أكثر من غيرهم من مدفوعات الفائدة الكبيرة في السنوات الماضية. نظراً لحجم الخسائر الكبير، يجب أن يشمل توزيعها على حاملي أسهم وديون البنوك، كما وبعض المودعين –مثاليًا، أصحاب الودائع التي تتخطّى عتبة معينة.

ثالثاً، على القطاع المصرفي أن يخرج أقوى من المحنة، حيث إنه في صميم فرص النمو المستقبلية في لبنان. ستكون هناك حاجة لإعادة هيكلة تشغيلية ومالية للقطاع، مما سيشكل فرصة للحد من التركيز في ملكيته.

القيود على رؤوس الأموال

توصي مجموعة الخبراء بفرض شكل من أشكال القيود على رؤوس الأموال على نحو عاجل ومؤقّت – لا للسيطرة على رؤوس الأموال الفاسدة فحسب، كما ينصح الكثيرون، بل أيضاً لتخفيف الضغوط التي تتعرّض لها الليرة اللبنانيّة بسبب هروب الأموال. قد تكون الضوابط الليّنة الحاليّة أبطأت التدفّقات الصادرة، لكنّها تولّد أيضاً حوافز للريع والفساد، ما يسمح بهروب رؤوس أموال الأفراد النافذين فيما يتمّ الحجز على مدّخرات المودعين العاديّين.

ويبدو أنّ حوالي 800 مليون دولار خرجت من البلاد في الفترة الممتدّة بين 15 تشرين الأول و7 تشرين الثاني والتي كانت فيها المصارف مقفلة رسميّاً في معظم الأحيان.

وتُعتبر القيود الرأسماليّة ضروريّة أيضاً للحفاظ على قاعدة الودائع والسماح بخفض الدين بطريقة عادلة. وينبغي اتّخاذ تدابير موازية للحؤول دون ازدياد الضغوط على سوق الدولار الموازية بشكل مفرط.

لا للخصخصة في ظلّ الأوضاع الراهنة

لا تؤيّد المجموعة الخصخصة في ظلّ الأوضاع الحاليّة. فنظراً إلى تراجع مستويات الثقة والسيولة، ستتمّ الخصخصة بأسعار متدنّية. ومع أنّ بعض عمليّات الخصخصة قد تكون ضروريّة في مرحلة لاحقة، إلا أنّه ينبغي الانتظار ريثما تصبح الأوضاع السياسيّة والاقتصاديّة أكثر استقراراً وتتحسّن آليّات الرقابة والمساءلة. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، إذا جرت الخصخصة الآن ستؤدّي إلى نقل سلطة الاحتكار إلى قطاع خاصّ تحتكره أقلية مرتبطة ببعض الدوائر السياسية النافذة.

الحاجة إلى تدابير اجتماعيّة

توصي مجموعة الخبراء أيضاً بوضع تدابير اجتماعيّة على الفور من أجل مساعدة الفئات الأكثر عرضة لآثار الأزمات على التأقلم مع الأوضاع الحاليّة والمتغيّرة.

فبحسب التقديرات، قد يؤدّي انخفاض قيمة الليرة اللبنانيّة بنسبة 30% على ارتفاع نسبة الفقر لتطال أكثر من 50% من السكّان (تقديرات البنك الدوليّ الأخيرة).

ويتطلّب هذا الخطر المحدق تدابير متعدّدة تشمل ما يأتي:

إجراء تعديلات تلقائيّة على الأجور ومعاشات التقاعد عندما ترتفع أسعار الاستهلاك بنسبة تتخطى الـ 10%؛

واستبدال البرامج الصحيّة الحكوميّة وشبه الحكوميّة الكثيرة بنظام صحيّ موّحد؛

وتقوية وتوسيع شبكات الأمان التي تحمي الفقراء؛

واتّخاذ إجراءات عاجلة لتحسين التعليم الرسميّ والمهنيّ.

فضلاً عن ذلك، قد يؤدّي خفض سعر الفائدة إلى إفقار الكثير من أفراد الطبقة الوسطى الذين خرجوا من سوق العمل وبات مدخولهم يعتمد على إيرادات الفوائد.

وسيكون من اللازم مساعدة هؤلاء الأفراد على التكيّف مع الظروف الاقتصاديّة الجديدة من خلال إعداد برنامج لمساعدتهم على العودة إلى سوق العمل،

بالإضافة إلى اتّخاذ التدابير الهادفة إلى زيادة النموّ.

وضع آليّات موثوقة للرقابة

من الضروريّ الإسراع في تحسين آليّات الرقابة الحكوميّة التي تعرّضت للفساد والضعف مع الوقت. لهذه الغاية، ينبغي التأكّد من استقلاليّة القضاء، وتقوية ديوان المحاسبة، ودعم صلاحيات ادارة المناقصات بهدف إجراء مناقصات شفّافة وتنافسيّة للعقود الحكوميّة كافةً، وتفعيل الهيئات الناظمة في قطاعي الكهرباء والاتّصالات.

بالإضافة إلى هذه الإصلاحات التي ستساهم في مكافحة الفساد، من الضروري اليوم وضع آليّة واضحة لاستعادة الأموال العامّة المنهوبة وتقييم المشاريع المموّلة من القطاع العامّ والتدقيق فيها لكشف الانتهاكات.

لكنّ هذه التدابير ستستغرق وقتاً لتعطي ثمارها. وتوصي مجموعة الخبراء بإنشاء آليّة رقابة مشتركة لأداء الحكومة (تتضمن مصرف لبنان). فبغية استعادة ثقة المواطنين والمواطنات، يتعيّن على صنّاع السياسات تحسين طريقة تواصلهم مع الرأي العام وإتاحة الحصول على المعلومات، بما في ذلك من خلال تفعيل القانون الجديد المتعلّق بحق الوصول إلى المعلومات.

في السياق نفسه، توصي المجموعة بالتشاور مع أصحاب المصلحة الرئيسيّين بهدف التوافق على حزمة الإنقاذ، بما في ذلك مع المجلس الاقتصاديّ والاجتماعيّ وجمعيّات رجال الأعمال والنقابات والاتّحادات العماليّة المستقلّة ومنظّمات المجتمع المدنيّ.

لبنان بحاجة ماسّة إلى الدعم الخارجيّ 

يمكن للدعم الخارجي أن يشكل دعمًا قيّمًا لهذه الجهود. فالدعم الماليّ العاجل على المدى القصير يزيد من الاحتياطيّات الأجنبيّة ويساهم في استقرار الليرة اللبنانيّة ويحول دون انهيار سعر الصرف.

ويؤدّي الدعم على المدى المتوسّط إلى تخفيف المعاناة الاجتماعيّة المرتبطة بالإصلاحات الضروريّة. ويمكن أن تؤدّي الالتزامات الدوليّة الحاليّة دوراً مفيداً في تحسين فرص النموّ.

لكنّ هذه الالتزامات تحتاج إلى تعديل وتكييف مع الوضع الحاليّ، بما في ذلك توفير مزيد من الدعم للتدابير الضروريّة على المدى القصير، ومناقشة الرغبة في إنشاء برنامج لصندوق النقد الدوليّ داعمٍ للبنان ومصمّم خصيصاً له.

دعوة للتحرّك المسؤول الآن

ينبغي أن تتشكّل حكومة ذات مصداقية وأن تقوم على الفور بإجراءات عديدة لاكتساب الثقة والحدّ من المخاطر الكارثيّة التي تلوح في الأفق. على الحكومة الجديدة البدء في سد فجوة الثقة بين الدولة وشعبها،

وكذلك مع المجتمع الدولي، واتخاذ القرارات المصيرية اللازمة للحفاظ على المصلحة العامة. سوف تتطلب الإصلاحات المطلوبة عملاً جريئا ومستدامًا، وقدرة على إجبار الجهات الفاعلة المحلية التي تتمتع بالقوة على الامتثال.

فالاعتماد على مصرف لبنان وحده لاتّخاذ القرارات الحاسمة الضروريّة في الأيّام والأسابيع المقبلة لا سيّما في ما يتعلق بالسياسات المالية والنقدية هو تصرّف غير مسؤول.

لذلك، من الضروريّ أن تشكّل حكومة تصريف الأعمال مجموعة عمل لمعالجة الأزمة تضمّ خبراء ماليّين وقانونيّين بالإضافة الى القدرات المؤسساتية والوسائل القانونيّة للعمل على المسائل الأكثر إلحاحاً التي لا يمكن أن تنتظر.

نظم اللقاء كل من المركز اللبناني للدراسات (LCPS)، ومرصد الاقتصاد السياسي للشرق الأوسط، ومبادرة الإصلاح العربي، وقد حضره الموقعون التالية أسماءهم: جوزيف باحوط، كمال حمدان، نديم حوري، إسحاق ديوان، سيبيل رزق، نسرين سلطي، جاد شعبان، نزار صاغية، كريم ضاهر، سامي عطاالله، جورج قرم، زياد ماجد، ومها يحيى

تم توزيع الورقة واعتمادها من قبل: عامر بساط، ليا بو خاطر، كريم إميل بيطار، فادي تويني، منى حرب، جمال حيدر، لينا خطيب، بول سالم، منى فواز، مرسال كسار، وشبلي ملاط.

تهدف المبادرة التي تستند اليها الوثيقة إلى ان تكون شاملة وتشجع على التعليق وتقديم الملاحظات على الأفكار المقترحة.
يمكن إرسال الملاحظات والتعليقات إلى contact@arab-reform.net أو info@lcps-lebanon.org

Reconstruction of Beirut city center? Like Solidere? By whom again?

Solidere (Societe Libanaise de Reconstruction) is a chartered company in charge of reconstructing and managing the city center of Beirut. The concession was supposed to be valid for 25 years, and Fouad Seniora PM extended the permit for 75 years in November 2005. Seniora was the right hand of late Rafic hariri PM who was assassinated on Feb. 14, 2004.

This private company owns a third of the city center or (108,000 sq.metres). In Sept. 2010, a year after taking office, Saad Hariri PM (son of Rafik) took private possession of 30,000 sq.metres of downtown Beirut and paid for by Solidere.

Solidere was created in 1992 with the total backing of Saudi Arabia and the blessing of the financial neoliberal decision-makers in the US.

Through figure heads, Rafik Hariri gathered the majority of the shares.

Destroyed and badly damaged properties in the city center were expropriated under dubious circumstances and bought judges and ther controlled municipality of Beirut, and the owners of the properties were compensated by shares in the company.

The trick is that Rafik manipulated the stockprices and bought shares at ridiculous prices from panicked shareholders.

What Solidere does?

It sells and rents apartments and offices that guarantee huge profits. How?

1. Prime Lands were acquired virtually for free,

2. The cost of construction was minimal due to cheap Syrian work labor,

3. The investment in infrastructure was mostly done by public money,

4. Public money were poured in the Hariri contracting firms, and at inflated cost estimates

5. The side public institutions related to finance, reconstruction, and internal security… were attached directly to the Prime Minister (Rafik Hariri)

6. The former shopping centers and areas such as Hamra Street and Achrafieh were totally neglected for several years so that the city center attracks all the traders and banks andforeign multinational companies…

7. The network of urban highways and tunnels mainly served the city center to encourage companies to relocate to Solidere Real Estates

8. The airport was 15 minutes away and the seafront less than 5 minutes far, and the city center was located in the main axes to enter and leave Beirut…

9. The prime land of Ouzai district, an extension to Beirut’s seafront of luxury hotels, was inhabited by southern Moslem Shiaa, refuggees from the civil war, and they refused to vacate this district.

The planned Alissar luxury project was blocked temporarily.

Hariri undertook to have a highway run through Ouzai in order to have a legal leverage to pressure the people to leave, and he failed.

If Hariri had the best interest of the people in mind he would have built a flyover express highway as the one crossing the Armenian district of Burj Hammoud in East Beirut. And the highway to the south is detached in several places because of the rapacious personal  interests of the Hariri clan.

Building permits in this lucrative city center, if the projects do not get a go by the Hariri oligarchy, are routinely blocked by Beirut municipality, totally in control of the Hariri clan. And the Hariri clan can side step regulations on urban development to match their interests and the Saudi princes and Emirs of the Gulf…

For an entire decade (1992-2002), Lebanon was run by a triumvirate of Rafik Hariri PM, President Hrawi, and Chairman of parliament for life Nabih Brrri, with the total backing of Syria, saudi Arabia and the USA administrations.

The Lebanese chapter of Transparency International has abundant substanting documents on this matter. The chapter wrote:

As a result of this arrangement, late Hariri became the sole decision-maker on the reconstruction process of the city center, Nabih Berri (chairman of the parliament for life) was given the charge of the reconstruction and relief programs for south Lebanon. Walid Jumblatt, the Druze warlord was given the relocation of refugees Box, and president Hrawi was interested in the oil and gas sector…”

After the failed preemptive war of Israel in June 2006, the opposition coalition put the pressure on the Seniora government to desisit from its oligarchic policies. They set up tents in the city center for 16 months (Oct. 2006 to May 2008). a sit-in symbolizing the exclusion of the people’s re-appropriation of their city center

As a result, investors shifted their interests to Ashrafieh and Hamra Street. The Hariri clan was taken aback and lost vast amount in profits.

Solidere considered moving its wealth to Jordan, in the Al Akaba, Red Sea seafront, to invest in the vast luxury contracting project of the elder son of Rafik Hariri.

The neoliberal expatriate wealthy class forced on this pseudo-State over $70 bn in debt that Lebanon didn’t need so that they satisfy quick wealth to all the warlords and their clientelist political sectarian bases.

The irony is that this neoliberal system is stating that the first $30 bn generated from the potential gas and oil offshore extraction will go to servicing the debt.

They never learn from previous experiences of other States who opted to default and are now well grounded on their feet and prospering.

Note 1. In the Middle-East, the relatioship between political regimes and space is based on political patronage. A city is a place of power to control the space and influence the central government.

This reconstruction project is viewed by the elite classes (foreigns, expatriates, and local bank owners…)  as success story. It is viewed as a striking failure by the Lebanese in resolving unstable social and political class-divide.

Note 2: This urban planning of Beirut city center is inherited by the recent Arab Gulf Emirates Real Estates development programs (Dubai…) with the explicit purpose of attracting foreign investment… This project wanted the Lebanese to believe that “neoliberal globalization” will save Lebanon from its endemic insecurity from its regional enduring conflicts (Israel, jihhadist…)

Note 3: Article inspired from a chapter by Fabrice Balanche in the book “Lebanon After the Cedar Revolution

Census shows widening gap between rich and poor…Is that a surprise?

The rich got richer and the poor got poorer in New York City last year.

The poverty rate reached its highest point in more than a decade, and the income gap in Manhattan, already wider than almost anywhere else in the country, rivaled disparities in sub-Saharan Africa.

ublished on September 20, 2012 in NYT:

“While the national recession officially ended in 2009 and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has repeatedly proclaimed the city’s robust recovery, the census figures released on Thursday painted a decidedly sober view of how New Yorkers are faring.

“To see the poverty rate jump almost a full percentage point is not a good sign,” said David R. Jones, the president of the Community Service Society of New York, an antipoverty advocacy and research group. “We’re still seeing really high rates of unemployment, while jobs have been growing in an anemic way and the jobs that have been created are really low-wage.”

While Mr. Bloomberg has made reducing the poverty rate, now nearly 21 percent, a priority, administration officials acknowledged that the stagnant national economy had hurt the city.

Samantha Levine, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, said on Wednesday: “These poverty numbers reflect a national challenge: the U.S. economy has shifted and too many people are getting left behind without the skills they need to compete and succeed….”

As former President Clinton recently said, ‘The old economy is not coming back,’ and that’s why the mayor believes we need a new national approach to job creation and education, one that gives everyone a chance to rise up the economic ladder.”

Median household income (the split line between the 50% incomes) in the city last year was $49,461, just below the national median and down $821 from the year before (compared with a national decline of $642). Median earnings for workers fell sharply to $32,210 from $33,287 — much more than the national decline.)

New Yorkers at the bottom end of the income spectrum lost ground, while those at the top gained.

Median income for the lowest fifth was $8,844, down $463 from 2010. For the highest, it was $223,285, up $1,919. (The difference is about 300 fold in yearly income)

In Manhattan, the disparity was even starker. The lowest fifth made $9,681, while the highest took home $391,022. The wealthiest fifth of Manhattanites made more than 40 times what the lowest fifth reported, a widening gap (it was 38 times, the year before) surpassed by only a few developing countries, including Namibia and Sierra Leone.

Only one other county in the nation, Clarke County, Ga., where nearly a third of the 117,000 residents are college students, reported a higher income gap.

Except for a decline in the poverty rate among children under 5, virtually every indicator was grim and suggested growing inequality.

Poverty rates rose most among Hispanic people, New Yorkers over age 65, married couples, residents of Manhattan and Queens, and those without a high school diploma. The citywide increase to 20.9 percent from 20.1 percent was slightly higher than the national increase, but still left the rate in New York below that of many other big cities.

Nearly 1.7 million city residents were officially classified as poor, or with an income of less than $18,530 for a family of three. Some 750,000 were subsisting on less than half the poverty level.

The proportion receiving food stamps increased to 20.6 percent from 19.3.

Among poor New Yorkers 16 and older, a third had worked full or part time within the preceding year.

“The statistics demonstrate quite clearly that our most vulnerable neighbors are far from a recovery,” said Jilly Stephens, executive director of City Harvest, which helps get emergency food to hungry New Yorkers.

A version of this article appeared in print on September 20, 2012, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Income Data Shows Widening Gap Between New York City’s Richest and Poorest.

“Time Banks”? Banks Not to the liking of multinationals?

I read: “In developed States, not all poor citizens own a car…But most public officials use public transports…” And I go: “Wish Lebanon had any kinds of public transport: I would feel enormously rich, riding one of them, public transports…”

A woman works at a street stall in Madrid. Some Spaniards are signing up for “time banks,” where individuals perform services based on their skills, and receive another service in return. No money changes hands.

LAUREN FRAYER published on September 22, 2012 under “Time Banks’ Help Spaniards Weather Financial Crisis”

After saving money for years, Lola Sanchez was finally able to buy a car refitted with a ramp and space for a wheelchair in the back for her teenage son, who has cerebral palsy.

A nurse used to come each day to help with her son’s care. That service was cut amid government austerity measures, though Sanchez still gets a small check every month.

Unemployment is rampant in Spain and full-time jobs are scarce. Here a woman works at a street stall in Madrid. Some Spaniards are signing up for "time banks," where individuals perform services based on their skills, and receive another service in return. No money changes hands. A woman is shown here working at a street stall in Madrid.

EnlargeOli Scarff/Getty ImagesUnemployment is rampant in Spain and full-time jobs are scarce. A woman works at a street stall in Madrid. Some Spaniards are signing up for “time banks,” where individuals perform services based on their skills, and receive another service in return.
“What I need is physical help, even more than financial assistance,” Sanchez says, “because I can’t physically lift my son on my own.”

So earlier this year, Sanchez joined a local “time bank” that sends members to help with her son’s care. She doesn’t pay them. Instead, she reciprocates by using her handicap-friendly car to transport other disabled people in her community.

With Spanish unemployment near 25%, many people have more time than money to spend. So in the past two years, the number of time banks in Spain has doubled, to nearly 300 Time Banks. Most have anywhere from 50 to 400 members, and some even print their own currency.

Most of all, they stress equality, Sanchez says.

“For me, it’s good to know that my time has the same value as anyone else’s,” she says. “There’s no difference between one hour of work for a computer specialist or for a cleaning woman.”

Time banks originated in the 19th century in America and Europe among socialists who emphasized the direct link between their labor and what they could get for it

Parents take their children to School No. 103 on the first day of the new school year in Valencia, Spain, on Sept. 7. Spanish students, parents and teachers are feeling the pinch of the ongoing European debt crisis.

A Sense Of Purpose

Most time banks nowadays operate online. You register for a profile — sort of like a Facebook page — that lists your work skills, and then lists the tasks you’re looking for someone else to do for you.

“Whatever you can imagine,” says José Luis Herranz. “You can fix a car, or paint a wall, or cook some food, or even clean the windows.”

Herranz helped start the time bank Sanchez belongs to in Madrid, late last year. The 27-year-old monitors the barter of services among members — about a third of whom are unemployed — and logs their hours online.

Amid constant government cutbacks, Herranz says the time bank gives people much-needed work, and also a sense of purpose.

“We have to trust each other, to create solidarity networks,” he says. “We feel we are alone, and we have to help each other.”

Julio Gisbert is a conventional banker, but spends his spare time as a consultant to time banks across Spain. He helps them avoid charges of tax evasion — people are working, but not for money, so they pay no income tax.

“One of the rules is that the services exchanged can’t be continuous and indefinite,” Gisbert says.

“Imagine you’re a time banker who teaches English, and someone wants classes every week,” he says. “In theory, the time bank can’t do that because an English-language academy can come along and denounce you. They’re paying tax and their professors, and you’re not.”

So the services must be sporadic to be legal. That doesn’t stop some time bankers from working 20 hours a week, in a variety of odd jobs.

Rebuilding Communities

Gisbert says time banks are especially useful in Spain, where traditionally close family ties have been fractured by urbanization in the past generation, and now by unemployment.

“It’s a question of reconstructing the sense of community that used to exist in Spanish villages in the old days, which doesn’t exist here in the city,” he says.

José Luis Herranz, the time bank organizer, is now getting his 55-year-old mother, Maribel, involved in Madrid.

“I was born here in this neighborhood, and wow. How things have changed,” she says.

A housewife all her life, Maribel is working outside the home for the first time, side by side with younger neighbors who’ve been laid off from their jobs. She gives cooking lessons and does grocery shopping for the elderly.

The neighborhood’s jobless rate is still at an all-time high, at more than 30 percent. But through their time bank, these neighbors have found a way to be productive.

Apartheid on all fronts: Israel persists on religious ideology in civic education, in mercenary colonial outpost in Middle-East…

Author Sami Michaeel, a Jewish Israeli from Iraq, has been delivering speeches and conducting seminars on the need for Israel to consider the alternative existential policy of integrating with the people in the region.

It is the responsibility of Israel to prove that it is ready to be part of the Middle-East region, and desist from resuming the policy of being the foreign colonial outpost to the western nations (Britain, France, and lately the USA in succession), desist from further preemptive wars, and seriously negotiate a long-term peace treaty with the Palestinians

Sami latest study was delivered at the “International convention for Israeli studies” hosted in Haifa.

Sami insists that Israel has become the worst apartheid State in the entire world.

Since 1967, after Israel expanded its occupation of Palestinian and Arab States lands, the spirit of Israel has been polluted and poisoned…

Israel thinks that it cannot afford to bail out as an outpost: It wants the most sophisticated weapons, keeps its weapon industry expanding and exporting more military hardware to African States, receive lavish donations to open up new colonies…

Adar Cohen, inspector of civic studies, agreed to sign on the published new civic education school book “On the road to civic citizenship“, a civic school book which transcend the fundamental Zionist ideology of apartheid and pure race, and exclusive Jewishness status…

And Adar was promptly sacked: This is not a good time for internal politics to demonstrate that Zionism is “that civic”

Israel has been applying a mind-fix policy to enforce her ideological thinking in all the Palestinian schools, and on diffusing any kinds of opinions that go counter to the radical Jewish religious ideology.

Israel has imposed on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank its concept of “Economic Peace“, a unilateral contract based on the two premises:

1. Under the current conditions, there will be no resolutions for the cases of Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees, and Hamas in Gaza. Consequently, the Palestinians should drop any illusion for any final peaceful agreement.

2. The occupation of Israel of the Palestinian territory is a serious threat to the stability and sustainability of the society in Israel. This colonial occupation is a demographic, moral, and political danger. The occupation is threatening to destroy the policy of forming a pure Jewish State.

The tacit reason for extending more trade and economic facilities in the West Bank is due to the evidences that points to the idea that occupation will inevitably ignite a Third Mass Disobedience Palestinian movement (Intifada). And Israel feels it be unable to tame this intifada by the sheer force, time around.

Thus, Israel is planing to extend small economical facilities for the current Palestinian Authority to lick on and defuse the growing grunting of the Palestinians under occupation.

Note: Post inspired by three articles published by Antoine Shalhat in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

International Monetray Fund (IMF) extends a costly loan to Egypt: The hidden restrictions

President Mursi’s bid for a $4.8 billion loan is raising questions as to what the exact benefits of increasing Egypt’s debt will be and the likely long-term repercussions on the economic situation.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde (2nd L and bent over) checks some pyramid stones next to security guards while listening to a guide’s explanation as she tours the pyramids in Giza, at the end of her visit to Egypt, 22 August 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Asmaa Waguih)

The Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debt issued a statement Thursday opposing the IMF loan and questioning the lack of information about “the extent to which the Egyptian economy needs this massive amount of dollars.”

The group protested that there had been no discussion of alternative ways of financing public spending, adding that the government had obtained foreign loans amounting to $6 billion over the past year without any democratic oversight. Governments appointed by the military since the revolution had also borrowed record amounts from Egyptian banks, it said, and “it is not known how they were spent.”

The campaign added that neither Mursi nor his party had explained how the measures they would adopt to secure the loan would differ from “the policies of impoverishment pursued by Hosni Mubarak for 30 years.”

It noted that its declared purpose was to cover the budget deficit rather than invest in social justice and employment, but that the loan would put further pressure on the budget in the long run by increasing the debt servicing and repayment burdens.

Bisan Kassab published a translation from the Arabic Edition in the Lebanese daily Alakhbar, and posted it on August 24, 2012 under “The Hidden Costs of Egypt’s IMF Loan”

Cairo – There have been some unexpected reactions from Egyptian political forces to the multi-billion dollar loan which President Mohammed Mursi is trying to secure from the International Monetary Fund in the next few months.

Opposition to the loan has been voiced by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) from which Mursi hails. It objected to the lack of available information about the terms of the proposed deal.

Abdul-Hafez Sawi of the FJP’s economy committee explained that the party still holds the view it took when the loan was proposed to parliament by the military-appointed government of Kamal al-Ganzouri.

Sawi said: “We still don’t know anything about the program under which Egypt will get the loan or the measures and steps that will be taken to cut government spending, reform fiscal policy and collect unpaid taxes.  We need to consider who will bear the burden of repayment.” With the amount to be borrowed now being put at $4.8 billion rather than the original $3.8 billion

The FJP did not take issue with the loan on ideological grounds, given the Islamic prohibition on usury. Sawi argued that it is permissible to pay interest on loans under the expediency provisions of Islamic law, especially when alternative support from fellow Muslims is unavailable – “for example, when the wealth of the Gulf is spent on buying palaces in Paris rather than helping the poor on the Comoros Islands.”

Sawi added that he hoped “to propose Islamic ways of providing finance to the international institutions.”

The Nour Party, the political arm of the Salafi movement and one of the most doctrinaire of the Islamist parties seems to have become more pragmatic after a year and a half of direct engagement in politics since the revolution.

Abdul Halim al-Gammal, who sat for the Nour party in the upper chamber of parliament’s finance and economy committee, explained the thinking behind its backing of the IMF loan:

“Any loan that advantages the lender in the context of dealings between individuals is usury. But it is different when it relates to international institutions, because the reason for the religious prohibition – exploitation – does not apply. If the nation were to shun all international transactions whose nature it does not have the power to change, it would squander major opportunities.”

The liberal Wafd party, which held the third largest bloc of seats in parliament, called for the deal to be concluded with the IMF as soon as possible. The party’s finance spokesman, Fakhri al-Fiqqi, said it wanted the loan’s economic program extended from one-and-a-half to three years “so as to change it from an emergency program into an extended financing facility.”

Fiqqi, a former IMF staffer, said he hoped this would facilitate the introduction of difficult structural reforms in Egypt, such as the gradual elimination of consumer subsidies, “starting with the introduction of a coupon system, and eventually ending all subsidies, in exchange for raising salaries, for example.”

The business community also enthused about the prospect of an IMF loan.

Hani Geneina, macroeconomics analyst with investment bank Pharos, said: “Many clients have started returning to the treasury bond and equity markets since the resumption of negotiations with the IMF after a halt of several months. The final signing is bound to mean an inflow of foreign investments in the longer term because of what the loan will mean in terms of confidence in the Egyptian economy and putting an end to fears that it could be joining the bankruptcy train like Greece,”

But other saw things differently.

Political objections to the loan are not confined to concerns about its social impact. Constitutional and legal issues would also be raised if Mursi were to use the legislative powers he has assumed to push through the loan before a new parliament is in place.

That would amount to ratifying an international agreement, which is unambiguously the role of the legislature, explained Supreme Constitutional Court judge Tahani a-Gabali. It would amount to denying the public any oversight over the deal, and raise fears about the near-absolute powers that have been concentrated in the president’s hands.

 

US weapon market share: Two-third of world total ($85 bn) and tripled during Obama…

The report on weapon sales was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress. The annual study, written by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr and delivered to Congress on Friday, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public.

Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011.

Russia was a far distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.

 published in the New York Times on August 26, 2012:

WASHINGTON — Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions, according to a new study for Congress.

The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” of over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010 and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports.

The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion.

A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels.

These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems.

The agreements with Saudi Arabia included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters, a variety of ammunition, missiles and logistics support, and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighters in the current fleet.

Sales to Saudi Arabia last year also included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, all contributing to a total Saudi weapons deal from the United States of $33.4 billion, according to the study.

The United Arab Emirates purchased a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced antimissile shield that includes radars and is valued at $3.49 billion, as well as 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million.

Oman bought 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion.

In keeping with recent trends, most of the weapons purchases, worth about $71.5 billion, were made by developing nations, with about $56.3 billion of that from the United States.

Other significant weapons deals by the United States last year included a $4.1 billion agreement with India for 10 C-17 transport planes and with Taiwan for Patriot antimissile batteries valued at $2 billion — an arms deal that outraged officials in Beijing.

A policy goal of the United States has been to work with Arab allies in the Persian Gulf to knit together a regional missile defense system to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack.

The effort has included deploying radars to increase the range of early warning coverage across the Persian Gulf, as well as introducing command, control and communications systems that could exchange that information with new batteries of missile interceptors sold to the individual nations.

The missile shield in the Persian Gulf is being built on a country-by-country basis — with these costly arms sales negotiated bilaterally between the United States and individual nations.

To compare weapons sales over various years, the study used figures in 2011 dollars, with amounts for previous years adjusted for inflation to provide a consistent measurement.

Note 1:  The weapon purchases of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates are just tacit policies of warehousing weapon reserves for the US military in eventual emergency wars in the Middle-East, instead of planing for aerial bridges to transport expensive and heavy weapons.  In any case, it is well-known that oil sales are reverted to the US treasury and for aiding in US covert operations not approved by Congress…Yearly astronomical deals so that the US guarantees the absolute obscurantist regimes in Saudi Arabia and the absolute Gulf Emirates

Note 2: After 4 decades, it is about time that the US desist sub-contructing its foreign policies in the Middle-East to Israel

 International Monetary Fund:  Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the IMF

I have already written a dozen posts about the calamities and damages that International Monetary Fund has and is still doing on world financial and economic stability.  An extra concise article is a great reminder, from an unknown author.

What is the IMF?

Also available as a
pre-formatted flier.
(PDF 35kb)

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were created in 1944 at a conference in Britton Woods, New Hampshire, and are now based in Washington, DC.

The IMF was originally designed to promote international economic cooperation and provide its member countries with short-term loans so they could trade with other countries (achieve balance of payments). Since the debt crisis of the 1980’s, the IMF has assumed the role of bailing out countries during financial crises (caused in large part by currency speculation in the global casino economy) with emergency loan packages tied to certain conditions, often referred to as structural adjustment policies (SAPs).

The IMF now acts like a global loan shark, exerting enormous leverage over the economies of more than 60 countries. These countries have to follow the IMF’s policies to get loans, international assistance, and even debt relief.

Thus, the IMF decides how much debtor countries can spend on education, health care, and environmental protection. The IMF is one of the most powerful institutions on Earth — yet few know how it works.

  1. The IMF has created an immoral system of modern-day colonialism:  The IMF — along with the WTO and the World Bank — has put the global economy on a path of greater inequality and environmental destruction. The IMF’s and World Bank’s structural adjustment policies (SAPs) ensure debt repayment by requiring countries to cut spending on education and health; eliminate basic food and transportation subsidies; devalue national currencies to make exports cheaper; privatize national assets; and freeze wages. Such belt-tightening measures increase poverty, reduce countries’ ability to develop strong domestic economies and allow multinational corporations to exploit workers and the environment A recent IMF loan package for Argentina, for example, is tied to cuts in doctors’ and teachers’ salaries and decreases in social security payments…The IMF has made elites from the Global South more accountable to First World elites than their own people, thus undermining the democratic process.
  2. The IMF serves wealthy countries and Wall Street: Unlike a democratic system in which each member country would have an equal vote, rich countries dominate decision-making in the IMF because voting power is determined by the amount of money that each country pays into the IMF’s quota system. It’s a system of one dollar, one vote. The U.S. is the largest shareholder with a quota of 18 percent. Germany, Japan, France, Great Britain, and the US combined control about 38 percent. The disproportionate amount of power held by wealthy countries means that the interests of bankers, investors and corporations from industrialized countries are put above the needs of the world’s poor majority.
  3. The IMF is imposing a fundamentally flawed development model: Unlike the path historically followed by the industrialized countries, the IMF forces countries from the Global South to prioritize export production over the development of diversified domestic economies. Nearly 80 percent of all malnourished children in the developing world live in countries where farmers have been forced to shift from food production for local consumption to the production of export crops destined for wealthy countries. The IMF also requires countries to eliminate assistance to domestic industries while providing benefits for multinational corporations — such as forcibly lowering labor costs. Small businesses and farmers can’t compete. Sweatshop workers in free trade zones set up by the IMF and World Bank earn starvation wages, live in deplorable conditions, and are unable to provide for their families. The cycle of poverty is perpetuated, not eliminated, as governments’ debt to the IMF grows.
  4. The IMF is a secretive institution with no accountability: The IMF is funded with taxpayer money, yet it operates behind a veil of secrecy. Members of affected communities do not participate in designing loan packages. The IMF works with a select group of central bankers and finance ministers to make polices without input from other government agencies such as health, education and environment departments. The institution has resisted calls for public scrutiny and independent evaluation.
  5. IMF policies promote corporate welfare: To increase exports, countries are encouraged to give tax breaks and subsidies to export industries. Public assets such as forestland and government utilities (phone, water and electricity companies) are sold off to foreign investors at rock bottom prices. In Guyana, an Asian owned timber company called Barama received a logging concession that was 1.5 times the total amount of land all the indigenous communities were granted. Barama also received a five-year tax holiday. The IMF forced Haiti to open its market to imported, highly subsidized US rice at the same time it prohibited Haiti from subsidizing its own farmers. A US corporation called Early Rice now sells nearly 50 percent of the rice consumed in Haiti.
  6. The IMF hurts workers: The IMF and World Bank frequently advise countries to attract foreign investors by weakening their labor laws — eliminating collective bargaining laws and suppressing wages, for example. The IMF’s mantra of “labor flexibility” permits corporations to fire at whim and move where wages are cheapest. According to the 1995 UN Trade and Development Report, employers are using this extra “flexibility” in labor laws to shed workers rather than create jobs. In Haiti, the government was told to eliminate a statute in their labor code that mandated increases in the minimum wage when inflation exceeded 10 percent. By the end of 1997, Haiti’s minimum wage was only $2.40 a day. Workers in the U.S. are also hurt by IMF policies because they have to compete with cheap, exploited labor. The IMF’s mismanagement of the Asian financial crisis plunged South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries into deep depression that created 200 million “newly poor.” The IMF advised countries to “export their way out of the crisis.” Consequently, more than US 12,000 steelworkers were laid off when Asian steel was dumped in the US.
  7. The IMF’s policies hurt women the most: SAPs make it much more difficult for women to meet their families’ basic needs. When education costs rise due to IMF-imposed fees for the use of public services (so-called “user fees”) girls are the first to be withdrawn from schools. User fees at public clinics and hospitals make healthcare unaffordable to those who need it most. The shift to export agriculture also makes it harder for women to feed their families. Women have become more exploited as government workplace regulations are rolled back and sweatshops abuses increase.
  8. IMF Policies hurt the environment:  IMF loans and bailout packages are paving the way for natural resource exploitation on a staggering scale. The IMF does not consider the environmental impacts of lending policies, and environmental ministries and groups are not included in policy making. The focus on export growth to earn hard currency to pay back loans has led to an unsustainable liquidation of natural resources. For example, the Ivory Coast’s increased reliance on cocoa exports has led to a loss of two-thirds of the country’s forests.
  9. The IMF bails out rich bankers, creating a moral hazard and greater instability in the global economy:  The IMF routinely pushes countries to deregulate financial systems. The removal of regulations that might limit speculation has greatly increased capital investment in developing country financial markets. More than $1.5 trillion crosses borders every day. Most of this capital is invested short-term, putting countries at the whim of financial speculators. The Mexican 1995 peso crisis was partly a result of these IMF policies. When the bubble popped, the IMF and US government stepped in to prop up interest and exchange rates, using taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street bankers. Such bailouts encourage investors to continue making risky, speculative bets, thereby increasing the instability of national economies. During the bailout of Asian countries, the IMF required governments to assume the bad debts of private banks, thus making the public pay the costs and draining yet more resources away from social programs.
  10. IMF bailouts deepen, rather than solve, economic crisis:  During financial crises — such as with Mexico in 1995 and South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, and Russia in 1997 — the IMF stepped in as the lender of last resort. Yet the IMF bailouts in the Asian financial crisis did not stop the financial panic — rather, the crisis deepened and spread to more countries. The policies imposed as conditions of these loans were bad medicine, causing layoffs in the short run and undermining development in the long run. In South Korea, the IMF sparked a recession by raising interest rates, which led to more bankruptcies and unemployment. Under the IMF imposed economic reforms after the peso bailout in 1995, the number of Mexicans living in extreme poverty increased more than 50 percent and the national average minimum wage fell 20 percent.

Wrong numbers, wrong reasons: What is the income of Palestinians under Israel occupation? 

At a morning fund-raising breakfast, largely populated by ultra-rich Jewish Americans, Mitt Romney (Republican Presidential candidate) blurted out that Palestinians are poor because their culture is inferior to that of Jews.

Is Romney faking Not to know the reason most Palestinians have low third-world income levels? Romney must know that:

1. Palestinians under occupation are born into impoverished towns or refugee camps inside the gerrymandered Bantustans of the Palestinian Authority,

2. where border crossings are controlled by Israeli military authorities checkpoints by the hundreds (over 600 checkpoints). The trip from Ramallah to the Jordanian borders should take less than 45 minutes, but the trip last 8 hours for the Palestinians.

3. water sources are tapped to feed Jewish settlements.  All the wells in the occupied territory have been depleted so that the settlers enjoy lush gardens. Every Jew in Israel enjoy ten times the amount of water reserved for the Palestinian

4. Israeli-built infrastructure bypasses the occupied Palestinian villages. The Wall of Same is 800 kilometers long and cut through Palestinian towns and villages. Why? So that the Israeli want have any opportunity to see a living Palestinians across from them…

5. the education system is funded by paltry international contributions and paltrier taxes,.. The UN has cut down on the budget to educating the Palestinians in the occupied land and in the refugee camps outside of Israel

6. agricultural land is periodically taken by Jewish settlers whose illegal seizures are retroactively approved by the government,. In period of harvesting olive or fruit trees, the settlers are instigated by the government to harass the Palestinian peasants and let the harvest rot…

7. land values are undermined because of the overhanging threat of expropriation by Israel…Israel routinely demolish villages on the ground of expanding military training ground…

Through all the savage indignities and economic violence of a 50-year-long occupation, by Zionist people whose ultimate goal is to force Palestinians off as much of the territory as possible, it is a miracle that Palestinians still have the energy and will to keep struggling and surviving.

An article in The Economist read:

“Gross corruption by Palestinian officials and counterproductive political and economic, attitudes on the part of Palestinian citizens, mainly a typical adaptive behaviours that any people tend to develop when they’re confined to massive donor-supported detention zones, have made the situation much worse.

Palestine was not going to be a wealthy nation under any circumstances. But without the occupation they might have been as wealthy as, say, Jordanians, who have a per capita income (purchasing-power-adjusted) of $6,000.

BUSH Jr. was never much of a CEO, but Mitt Romney, by all accounts, was a killer CEO; his campaign so far has been lackluster, and his first trip abroad has been a bit of a horn-honking, floppy-shoed clown show.

After spending several days getting flayed by the British press for insulting the country’s handling of the Olympic games, Romney moved on to Israel, where his campaign promptly involved itself in a diplomatic scandal (this time with actual consequences) over whether it had said that Mr Romney would back a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran.

Mr Romney went on to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, a position no American administration has ever taken because discussions over the final status of the city are the most explosive subject in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

At a fund-raising breakfast of ultra-rich Jewish Americans, Mr Romney managed to blurt that Palestinians are poor because their culture is inferior to that of Jews:

As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,

The Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted around a U-shaped table at the luxurious King David Hotel…Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors at his fundraiser that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference is so great.

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” Romney said, and went on to citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the “hand of providence.

Palestinians were less than thrilled. Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official said:

“What is this man doing here?Yesterday, he destroyed negotiations by saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and today he is saying Israeli culture is more advanced than Palestinian culture. Isn’t this racism?”

To make matters worse, Mr Romney got his numbers wrong. Per capita income in Israel is over $31,000; in the Palestinian territories it is closer to $1,500.

Those aren’t the kinds of numbers that divide industrious Protestants from happy-go-lucky Catholics. They’re the kind of numbers that divide South Korea from Ghana. You don’t get those kinds of divisions because of cultural differences.

Comparing the income of the average Israeli to that of the average Palestinian, as though their prospects at birth had been equivalent and their fortunes today are largely the result of their own efforts and their “culture”, is gratuitously insulting and wreaks damage to American diplomacy.

And it’s just wrong. Mr Romney may have noticed a rather large concrete wall running between many Palestinian towns and the roads (Wall of Shame) that might otherwise connect them with markets. To coin a phrase, Palestinians didn’t build that.

If one were looking for a country in which citizens of different religions are born into relatively equal positions and have equivalent levels of economic freedom, one might try comparing income by religion in the United States.

Perhaps at a fund-raising breakfast in New York, Mr Romney might compliment the city’s wealthy Jews and Hindus on their culture of educational excellence, which has made them so much richer and more accomplished, on average, than America’s evangelical Christians and Mormons.

Maybe it’s not just culture; perhaps the “hand of providence” plays a role, as well. With the political deft touch Mr Romney has displayed so far on his trip abroad, I wouldn’t put such a remark entirely past him.”

Does Romney forget that the State of Israel received more then $1,000bn of clear money just from the US, and not counting another $trillion from Germany and France and Italy and England…? Excluding the yearly funding that private corporations and Jews sent (tax free) to expanding the settlement grid?

Note: I doubt that Gaza was included in that picture. Over 1.5 million Palestinians are crammed in Gaza, totally blocked from the outside world and unable to trade or communicate with even the West Bank.  Israel destroyed all the infrastructures, hospitals and schools in Gaza and frequently cut off the power supply and water sources…

Hell is always a “Promised Paradise”: 14 Israelis burned themselves in this extreme Liberal Capitalist State

In July 14, an Israeli from Haifa converged to Tel Aviv and burned himself: He survived for just a week before succumbing.  This week alone, 13 more Israeli tried to commit suicide by burning themselves in public squares.

Israel “Citizen rights association” published its researched report asserting that this wave of social unrest is due mainly to the liberal capitalism economic policies adopted by Israel since 1980.

Since Netanyahu came to power in the early 80’s, most Israel public institutions were privatized, including its internal security services.  The market economy was claimed to take care more effectively of the facilities related to health, lodging, education, social welfare…

The upper classes paid less taxes than the middle classes and the poorer classes paid the heavy price for neglect and the drying up of social budget and the increased gap among all social communities…

Zionism fooled the world communities that it is a socialist ideology, and Stalin fell in the trap of believing Israel would be the first Communist State in the Middle-east. The State of Israel developed as a capitalist State from its inception (read link in note)

Yossi Gurvitz posted on July 12 under “The NYTimes has it wrong: Israel’s roots are not liberal

Perhaps the greatest myth about Israel is the one the New York Times subscribes to: that it started out as a ‘liberal’ country committed to ‘human rights.’ An examination of the early days demonstrates that the country led by Ben-Gurion and Mapai was no progressive picnic.

“Recently, the New York Times was bemoaning the declining state of democracy in Israel. My colleague Dahlia Scheindlin noted several errors in the facts cited by the paper. I was more struck by the concluding passage: “One of Israel’s greatest strengths is its origins as a democratic state committed to liberal values and human rights.”

This to me shows the basic misunderstanding of even a liberal-leaning newspaper regarding Israel’s foundations. The idea that Israel has “liberal roots” and institutions is perhaps the greatest success of the hasbara (state PR) campaign.

Let’s review the basic facts.

1. Israel does not have a constitution. It was supposed to have one: what we now call the First Knesset was supposed to be a constitutional assembly, but after several debates and the pressure of Israel’s strongman, David Ben Gurion, the assembly performed what one of its members – the American Hillel Kook (“Peter Bergson”) – called a putsch, and abandoned the constitution, declaring itself the First Knesset. Cook resigned in protest; barely anyone noticed.

Ben Gurion opposed a constitution because he knew any such would greatly limit his own power, and would also require Israel to treat all its citizens equally. Ben Gurion, who later on would refuse to carry an ID card containing text in Arabic (and would be issued a special, Hebrew-only card), had no such intentions.

2. Ben Gurion spearheaded the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1947-1948, and was instrumental in the decision following the War of Independence to open fire on refugees trying to return to their villages. While paying lip service to the claim that all Israelis were full citizens, he kept the  Palestinian population of Israel under military rule (which was abolished only in late 1966); he had puppet Arab MKs and parties – but his internal security service (ShinBet) persecuted real Palestinian activists, and his police terrorized the Palestinian population. In at least one case – the Qafr Kassem massacre – Israeli border policemen massacred dozens of so-called Israeli citizens because they did not comply with a curfew order – of which they were unaware.

3. Ben Gurion oversaw the massive land theft, which transferred most of the land in Israel from its Palestinian owners to the Zionist state or its affiliated organizations, such as the Jewish National Fund. The usual ploy went like this: the army – over which Ben Gurion kept control, combining the office of Prime Minister and Defense Minister – would inform a Palestinian village it had to be evacuated for military reasons for a year, and after a year the land would be declared abandoned and confiscated.

4. Ben Gurion’s security services routinely spied on his political opponents, and the chief of the Shin Bet – the fearsome Issar Harel, of Eichmann’s kidnapping fame – was a regular participant at high-level party Mapai party meeting, giving explicitly partisan advice. The service was caught, twice, when eavesdropping on opposition parties (Mapam and Herut, which later metamorphosed into the Likud).

Surveillance was, however, the least of Ben Gurion’s opponents’ problems. He, and other Mapai leaders, believed that the government and the party were one and the same. Correspondingly, political opponents found it difficult to work – and not just at government positions (the High Court of Justice had to prohibit the government from denying work for its political opponents, so the practice went underground), but also at the private sector. A quiet word that such and such person is “not one of us” was enough to deny a person a job.

Speak to old right-wingers or communists, and they remember it full well. My father used to speak often of the period where you couldn’t get a job, or a government contract, unless you held Mapai’s infamous red membership card. This extended to the army, as well: for a very long time – practically, until the fall of the Labor Party in 1977 – you couldn’t be promoted to general rank without being a party member.

Ariel Sharon once snidely commented that “I remember well the day I was promoted a major-general; it was the day my Mapai membership card came in the mail.”

5. As for human rights… As of today, Israeli law explicitly refuses to recognize the right to equality. This would force the regime to actually share Israel’s resources with all its citizens. State and religion were never separated – the humorist Efraim Kishon jested that “Israel is the only state where state and religion were separated, and from that day since religion rules unchallenged” – as this would allow miscegenation, the mixing of Jewish blood with non-Jewish blood.

This is not news: it was sardonically noted by Hannah Arendt in her report on the Eichmann trial, more than 50 years ago. Israelis are ruled by religious courts in almost all personal spheres of life. Israel persecutes non-Orthodox Jewish sects.

6. Much is said about the famed freedom of the press in Israel. Yet it is not recognized in law, only in two High Court decisions – which the Knesset can easily overcome. This freedom, naturally, extends only to Jewish newspapers; Palestinian ones were often under heavy censorship and until the late 1960s were routinely suppressed.

And when you were writing things the Mapai regime did not like, especially in the 1950s, you could be literally silenced: the government controlled the selling of printing paper, and as Uri Avneri once found, its officials simply told him there wasn’t enough paper for his book to be published.

I note Avneri because he was the only opposition in the press to the regime in the dark ages of Mapai – there were opposition papers, of course, but they rarely contradicted Mapai’s basic Zionist assumptions. Avneri did so regularly – and, after a particularly vicious column about some Ben Gurion scandal, Arik Sharon sent some paratroopers on vacation, on condition they find Avneri and rough him up. They did.

The era of Mapai was no golden era of liberalism and human rights. It was the face of Israel’s founders, people who grew up in eastern European dictatorships. Israel was a copy of late 1930s Poland or Lithuania. It was anything but liberal.

Ironically, it was the fall of Mapai/Labor in 1977 which brought a truly liberal party to power; it was only then that Israel enjoyed a brief spring of liberalism and commitment to human rights – with the silent elephant in the middle of the room, the occupation.

So why is the Times so enamored of early Israeli history? I think they draw their information mainly from liberal and leftist Zionists. This group was so shocked by the rise of the right, particularly the religious right, and by the occupation, they began idealizing the era of “small Israel.”

Liberal and leftist Zionists began doing so as early as the 1970s. But there was nothing liberal or admirable in the old Israel; it is safe to say that for the vast majority of Israelis, Palestinian citizens included, the situation today is still vastly preferable to the dark days of the regime under the poisonous Ben Gurion.

We are sliding fast and it will soon be much worse:

1.  Israeli Jews are abandoning their identity as Israelis and retreating to a tribal and religious Jewish identity,

2. Israeli Jews are fast becoming incapable of tolerance, and drawing from proto-Nazi sources within Judaism, which speak of the destruction or enslavement of the other nations…

3. Israeli Jews are in a full-fledged frenzy to fabricate a mythical, liberal Israel that never was.

Note: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/israel-started-a-capitalist-state-and-never-desisted-by-amir-ben-borat/


adonis49

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