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Globally ranks 3rd in debt, plummets in health and education: Lebanon

By October 1, 2016

Tonnie Ch and Ziad Abi Chaker shared Newsroom Nomad link. 

Lebanon continues to struggle with seemingly endless crises, presidential and waste management included, leading to a significant drop in health and education.

This as the country’s debt continues to rise, ranking 3rd globally after Japan and Greece.

As for the most problematic factors causing the decline? Corruption comes at number one, followed by government instability, inadequate supply of infrastructure, inefficient government bureaucracy, and policy instability among other things.

How will this reflect on the newly implemented health scheme? Is the status quo sustainable? More details inside.
#NewsroomNomad #Lebanon #Health #Education #Corruption #Debt

newsroomnomad.com|By Newsroom Nomad

Out of 138 countries included in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Report, released this week, the country came out at the 101st spot, ahead of only three Arab countries, Egypt (115), Mauritania (137) and Yemen (138).

The Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program, the group in charge of listing Lebanon in the WEF’s report, lamented the results, asking: “Isn’t it catastrophic to see the ranking of Lebanon in health and primary education going from 30 in 2014 to 52 in 2015?”

“Lebanon [which] has always been considered a reference in higher education and training in the region is down to position 66 this year. It is now clear that our political and economic deadlocks are starting to structurally impact our society and the health of our new generations.”

Source: Trading Economics
Source: Trading Economics

Our debt is also a matter of great concern with the debt-to-GDP ratio –an indication of the ability of a country to pay back its debts without incurring further liabilities– rising.

According to the Global Competitive Survey Lebanon came out third after Japan and Greece with a 139.1% debt-to-GDP ratio.

Source: Trading Economics
Source: Trading Economics

 

In July, Moody’s rating agency warned of the growing public debt in Lebanon as a major source of credit risk for Lebanese banks.

In fact almost all international rating agencies have repeatedly warned that Lebanese banks are becoming more vulnerable to unfavorable conditions.

Successive governments continue to tap into the local market and Lebanese banks to finance the public debt, which is now estimated at over $71 billion.

As for the most problematic factors causing the decline? Well, corruption comes at number one, followed by government instability, inadequate supply of infrastructure, inefficient government bureaucracy, and policy instability among other things.

Source: World Economic Forum
Source: World Economic Forum

These reports come at a time when Lebanon’s Health Ministry announced that starting October 1st, every Lebanese citizen above 64 years of age will be entitled to 100% medical coverage, designating $11.3 million from the annual budget for said plan.

But no details have yet emerged on how the new health scheme will survive throughout the years in light of the rising debt and the country’s ailing public hospitals that struggle to pay their staff, and of course the rise in pollution.

1,816 deaths related to air pollution were registered in Lebanon in 2013 alone according to The World Bank, prior to the garbage crisis of 2015-2016, which saw a spike in open waste incineration.

New studies by the American University of Beirut predict a much worse outcome as indicated in the below report, which unfortunately includes a widely shared yet false Numbeo “study”. (Where are the news editors?)

Whether the health scheme is viable or not is a matter that remains to be seen, as are the plans announced by the Ministry of Education that aim to incorporate more Syrian children into the school system as well as open 60 schools for children with special needs.

Are these schemes sustainable in light of rampant corruption?

Is it a matter pertaining to country’s growing reliance on international donors? Only time will tell.

Note: There are many resources that the government refuse to tap into, and related to the elite class who ravaged public property and transform it as a private belonging, especially along all the sea shore.

Drowning in garbage

Bad scores for Lebanon: in debt, and plummets in health and education

Joseph Eid .  Wednesday 28 September 2016

Beirut — “Good morning! I’m an AFP photographer. Would it be alright to use your roof to take pictures of the garbage mountain in front of your building?”

“Welcome, welcome my dear, come in. Would you like some coffee? I can give you a full interview if you want. Will your pictures show how bad the smell is?”

Since Lebanon’s trash crisis began last July, I have asked this question dozens — perhaps hundreds — of times. I am greeted with the same enthusiasm each time, with residents eagerly ushering me onto their rooftops or near their windows to snap pictures of the piles of rubbish lining Lebanon’s roads.

Andrew Bossone shared this link. September 30 at 7:07am ·

“Everyone I’ve spoken to in my work as an AFP photographer and in my daily life as a Lebanese citizen has given up. They have surrendered entirely to the idea that the ongoing garbage crisis exemplifies what is wrong with Lebanon: A political class that has no interest in serving the public.

This political class, Lebanese people say, has intentionally manufactured or at least prolonged a crisis because it has yet been Unable to agree on how to “divide up the cake.””

correspondent.afp.com

After several rounds of government deals on the issue, we thought the waste crisis had been brought under control. But over the past month, piles of garbage have once again invaded our streets and neighbourhoods, from Lebanon’s rocky mountains to the capital’s busy streets.

My 40 kilometre commute to work takes me from the beautiful coastal town of Byblos along the seaside highway to Beirut. Day by day, as I drive this route, I notice garbage accumulate along both sides of the highway, near exit roads that lead into residential neighbourhoods, and under huge concrete bridges.

While driving to Beirut one morning, I noticed a giant cloud of smoke several kilometres away. I veered off the road to track down where it was coming from.

It was a massive construction pit filled to the brim with flaming rubbish. I immediately began snapping photos, as two firefighters emerged from the smoke, calling for backup as they had run out of water to extinguish the fire.

It looked like a disaster movie — except that joggers and people walking their pets just strolled by, completely unfazed by the gruesome scene unfolding before them.

It seemed surreal — are they drugged? I thought. More likely, the situation has become so commonplace that they’ve become numb to the heaps of trash around them.

The following day, I saw a river of garbage — bags piled up on a bridge that serves as one of the main thoroughfares into Beirut. The only way to capture a telling picture would be from an elevated position, so I began making the rounds in nearby buildings to find a suitable lookout point.

The smell was overwhelming — I couldn’t imagine how anyone was living this close to such a putrid monument. A concierge spotted me looking around and knew exactly what I needed. “Do you want to get a postcard of this new tourist site? Come with me and I’ll show you!” he shouted.

He led me up 14 storeys to the rooftop. What a view. I could see Beirut’s perennially-bustling port, the old and new buildings of the city, and, of course, the smoke rising from burning garbage piles across the capital. I could also spot the new garbage dump in Karantina, a mountain in a forest of buildings.

Then, I saw it: Lebanon’s new ski slope.

But instead of freshly fallen snow, the white hill was made of garbage bags, extending for several hundred meters along the Jdeideh bridge, which links the Metn area to Beirut. Once again, commuters were zipping past without a second glance.

I took the pictures I needed and thanked the concierge for his help. As I showed him the photographs, he smiled and complimented the “beauty of my frames,” as if he was looking at a picture of a beautiful woman or a postcard from the Caribbean islands.

It’s shameful. The blatant lethargy of the Lebanese has stunned me.

They are absolutely convinced that nothing can be done — that their fate has been sealed by the governing political elite. They are angry and upset, but they suffer silently, without hope of a real solution.

Along to the warm welcomes that I’ve received from residents whose rooftops I used as vantage points, I also repeatedly heard the following phrases:

“Please make sure to show the world what they are doing to us.”

“We are dying of cancer.”

“We are overwhelmed by viruses, infections, and bacteria.”

“You work for a foreign agency, show the world. Please don’t let this pass unseen. We want the colonial powers to come to rule over us again, at least we would have institutions and wouldn’t be drowning in garbage.”

“A country the size of a small town in the west is unable to elect a president, all its public institutions are dysfunctional, its services and infrastructure are rotten… Why would anyone want to live in such a failed state?”

Everyone I’ve spoken to in my work as an AFP photographer and in my daily life as a Lebanese citizen has given up. They have surrendered entirely to the idea that the ongoing garbage crisis exemplifies what is wrong with Lebanon: A political class that has no interest in serving the public.

This political class, Lebanese people say, has intentionally manufactured or at least prolonged a crisis because it has not yet been able to agree on how to “divide up the cake.”

Because Lebanon’s leaders cannot agree, some have resorted to sectarian discourse as a tool to deflect public scrutiny and camouflage their own culpability.

Others have irresponsibly suggested that municipalities, which have been handcuffed by the same elite for years, take on the responsibility of processing waste in light of the fact that the elite have failed to do so.

Still others have called on citizens to find a solution to the garbage crisis, a move which only highlights the bankruptcy of the politicians.

But until a lasting solution is found, I will keep climbing up buildings to capture Beirut’s increasingly-littered horizon.

 Note: Lebanon globally ranks 3rd in debt, plummets in health and education

Tonnie Ch and Ziad Abi Chaker shared Newsroom Nomad link.
#NewsroomNomad #Lebanon #Health #Education #Corruption #Debt

Municipal election violations as documented by activists in Beirut

Shortly after polls closed for Beirut and east Lebanon’s municipal and mukhtar elections, the [preliminary] results came in with the Byerte list winning Beirut, and Hezbollah securing a victory in Baalbeck.

According to LADE (the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections), 647 electoral violations were reported between Sunday and Monday in Beirut and the Bekaa [link].

647 violations were reported between Sunday and Monday according to LADE (the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections), but until they are all officially released, here are the ten major election violations, as documented by activists and observers.
‪#‎NewsroomNomad‬ ‪#‎News‬ ‪#‎MunicipalElections‬ ‪#‎Lebanon‬

With all eyes on Beirut, where a battle between traditional politics (Byerte) and new (Beirut Madinati) took center stage, several enthusiastic volunteers documented and published blatant violations that occurred throughout Election Day seemingly under the gaze of onlookers.

Here are the ten major election violations, as documented by activists and observers.

1- Difficult access for people with special needs:

Countless citizens were subjected to humiliating means in order to access voting stations. While there are no exact figures registered, the complete disregard to people with special needs is a blatant violation of the law. Read more here.

2-Victory announced in advance (1):

Minister of Environment Mohamad Machnouk took to unofficial channels on Sunday evening to declare the victory of the Byerte list even as the process of vote counting was still in its prime. Announcements of the kind fall under the duties of concerned officials namely the Minister of Interior and the Information Minister.

3- Victory announced in advance (2):

The announcement of the victory of the Byerte list did not only occur prior to Minister Mohamad Machnouk’s twitter post as noted above, but was promoted via a television program a week in advance, whereby Leila Abdel Latif –a popular television psychic – announced that former PM Saad Hariri’s list, the Byerte, will secure a landslide victory. Watch video here.

4- Unattended ballot boxes, transported in civilian vehicles:

5- Access denied to BM representatives during vote count:

6- Swaying voters opinions and the presence of delegates in and around polling stations

LBCI received photos from inside a polling center in the region of Bourj Abi Haydar, depicting a number of electoral delegates distributing lists on voters inside the center, which is considered a violation of the electoral law. [Link]

7- Pre-election silence violated with the continued promotion of several candidates in various media

8- Scuffles registered between political groups and the intervention of the Lebanese Army

9- Vote buying and documented bribery

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said a suspect was arrested for allegedly buying votes in Sunday’s municipal elections in the eastern city of Zahle.

Machnouk said in a statement that police arrested Kh.L. who allegedly paid voters in the town to submit ballots for a specific electoral list, without specifying which one. [Link]

10-  Various other violations

Source: Facebook/LADE
Source: Facebook/LADE

LADE stated that a significant increase in the proportion of irregularities occurred in conjunction with a tangible decline in electoral participation.

In Beirut, almost 80% of the population abstained from voting –the highest on record. (40% of eligible voters have immigrated for no return. Same rate as in 2010 election)

In a press conference today, LADE said that it will follow up on all registered electoral violations. It also said that it will continue to monitor the electoral process in the upcoming weeks. LADE urged all citizens to file complaints in the case that they witness election fraud or suspicious activity.


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