The ruling oligarchy in power just doesn’t get it. After putting a 72-hours deadline on his government partners to agree on all reforms and save the cartel in power, Hariri comes back 24 hours before his deadline ends with a “reform package” which freezes tax increases yet features privatization and zero budget deficit.
Three days of protests and hundreds of thousands in the street don’t give a damn about your reforms and austerity measures, which basically are a repeat of what has been presented before. We the people do not want you to sell our state assets to your friends and cronies, and we refuse to implement any public project through your corrupt institutions.
All of you should resign. Nobody trusts that you can do anything good after 30 years of failures.
Aoun’s “National Unity Government” is gone in the streets. Power should be handed to a transition government that implements emergency socio-economic reforms and starts planning for early national and local elections.
Below is my suggested Blueprint For The Socio-Economic Plan of this transition government, to be implemented over 6 months:
1. Implement a currency stabilization plan to maintain exchange rate stability through an independent expert oversight committee over Central Bank operations.
2. Import directly through state contracts strategic reserves of major commodities (fuel, grain, medicine and hospital supplies).
3. Activate a national price monitoring and inflation control plan to curb illegal increases in product and currency prices.
4. Enact the Universal Health Coverage plan and issue national health insurance cards for all Lebanese.
5. Increase the budget of the Lebanese University and repay all student debts in the banking system.
6. Appoint a national job creation task force empowered to subsidize the immediate creation of jobs through grants to companies and startups, targeting youth and job seekers in key productive sectors.
7. Finance these needed expenditures by progressive taxes on high wealth through: a. 15% tax on interest rate income of bank accounts exceeding $1 million; b. 5% tax on the value of empty apartments; c. tax on the coastal illegal property; d. replacement of the service on public debt owed to the central bank with 0% interest for 3 years; e. scrap all wasteful expenses from the budget.
8. Appoint a committee of independent judges to draft a road map for curbing corruption and prosecuting and reclaiming stolen public funds.
9. Establish nationwide committees in each district to devise and implement local socio-economic sustainable development priorities, including decentralized solutions for the waste crisis and environmental protection.
10. Create a mechanism for constant citizen consultations and empowerment at all levels of government, including publishing all records and public documents and opening up palaces and ministries for citizen meetings.