Public sector paralysis as Lebanon turns into a “failed state”

On an ordinary weekday, Walid al-Shaar, a 50-year-old employee of the Lebanese Ministry of Finance, did not go to work, having been absent since last June.

Like thousands of civil servants in Lebanon, El Shaar went on strike two months ago due to the very low value of his salary following the country’s economic collapse, one of the worst waves of collapse in the world in modern times.

Lebanese security chiefs condone soldiers taking extra work, something normally prohibited but unofficially accepted with low salaries.

The man rushes to irrigate the garden of his house in the middle of the hills south of Beirut, taking advantage of the only hour allocated by the state in the framework of the rationalization of electricity consumption to operate the irrigation equipment. end if we keep this up.”

The public sector has been paralyzed, extending to judges who began their protests this week, as soldiers look for extra work to earn a living, electricity has been cut and government offices are running out of basic office supplies, and already strained infrastructure has reached breaking point. under years of uncontrolled spending and corruption. Prefer quick solutions over sustainable solutions.

“We are in a state of collapse,” said Lamia al-Mobayed of the Basil Fleihan Institute for Finance and Economics, a research center at the Ministry of Finance. In the parliament building, there is no fuel to run the elevator generator, so security guards pass messages up and down the stairs between workers, and those who register New cars are given handwritten papers instead of official government documents due to a lack of paper .

The average monthly salary of a public employee has decreased from about $1,000 to barely $50, with this downward trend continuing as the Lebanese pound loses more of its value day by day, and it has paid tens of thousands of civil servants, in ministries, local government agencies, schools, universities, courts and even an agency Government News, to the strike, and 350 Lebanese judges will not attend sessions this week, in protest to also demand a raise.

“The judges are hungry,” said Faisal Makki, one of the founders of the country’s judges’ club. He added that the Ministry of Justice has long suffered from a lack of funding, so judges have been buying paper and ink for their office printers at their personal expense. “In Adliya the situation was It is difficult in the first place, and I used to buy paper and ink for the office, but (now) I cannot buy it because I can’ not eating, it is surely a failed condition.”

primitive life
In response, the government is implementing partial policies and, in a two-month stopgap measure, agreed to increase daily benefits and provide social assistance to most government employees, effectively raising monthly net income to just $200 .

But with food prices rising to 11, and many restaurants and even service providers turning to dollars, the olive branch provided by the government was not enough for around 150,000 public sector workers, and the slogan said: “No government employee can a kilo of meat.” Or chickens only once a month, we live a primitive life, we only buy basic needs.”

“The workers are asking for a fivefold increase in their salaries and help with the excessive expenses of education and health, but this has raised fears of hyperinflation,” said Nawal Nasr, head of an association for public administration employees.

Meanwhile, government revenue has faltered with tax collection suspended for two months in light of the strike by the affected employees, and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said meeting all the workers’ demands was “impossible”, adding that it would lead to a further deterioration of the situation, and said that the wage increase It must come in the context of a broader financial stability plan.

Emptying the state of powers
But political factions have yet to reach a consensus on such a plan, causing the government to lose some of its highly skilled employees. “Almost six out of ten civil servants are either leaving or planning to leave, at a rate not seen since,” said Lamia al-Mobayed. The country’s civil war from 1975 to 1990.” She added that it is not just numbers and that it is the best in the Lebanese state, and went on to say that the country needs it to recover and implement any structural reform plan.

Al-Shaar, who holds a doctorate and heads a high-level tax directorate at the Ministry of Finance after working in the public sector for nearly three decades, says he is frustrated and wants to leave Lebanon, and the union that he should have lost almost half of his members, and his representative for aviation workers recently received a one-way ticket. From Beirut, and for those who stayed, it appears that the accumulation of problems in Lebanon will finally catch up with them.

He expressed regret, saying that “recent years have destroyed all our efforts,” with the moves aimed at improving governance over IT systems disrupted by the crisis, saying: “Who will stay?”

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