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Public sector employee strikes in Lebanon a symptom of broader political crisis, say experts

Public sector employee strikes in Lebanon a symptom of broader political crisis, say experts
1 Apr 2024 11:13

AHMET ATEF (CAIRO)

Lebanese experts and political analysts view the strikes by public sector employees as a symptom of the broader political and economic crisis facing Lebanon. They warned that unless these issues are promptly addressed, they could severely disrupt state functions, posing a significant threat to the nation’s stability. 


The consensus among these analysts is that Lebanon’s path to recovery requires urgent actions, including the election of a president and the formation of a new government. These steps are seen as critical to halting the country’s ongoing decline by restoring confidence among Arab nations and securing financial support for Lebanon, contingent upon the election of a president committed to implementing the necessary reforms.


Yahya Mauloud, a Lebanese political activist, said that the current crisis transcends mere strikes, pointing out the widespread dysfunction across state institutions, which fail to deliver essential services to the public. 


According to Mauloud, this dysfunction stems from the political leadership’s inability to resolve Lebanon’s multifaceted economic, political, and social crises. He highlighted examples of the malfunctioning of key sectors such as electricity, water, telecommunications, and finance, where employees struggle due to unclear priorities and diminishing salaries. 


Mauloud noted that addressing these issues requires a holistic approach that encompasses a viable economic strategy and structural reforms within public sector institutions, ensuring employees receive fair compensation without adversely affecting the economic landscape.


Lebanese political researcher Hikmat Shahrour, in a statement to Aletihad, emphasised that vital sectors, including health, social services, and education, are plagued by deep-rooted problems and inefficiencies. Yet, he remains optimistic about Lebanon’s capacity for recovery, contingent on the emergence of political will.


Dr. Leila Nicola, a professor of international relations at the University of Beirut, pointed out the adverse impact of repeated public sector strikes on the national budget, exacerbating an already significant deficit.


She said that the country’s tax collection practices, which, due to the disparity in exchange rates, place an additional strain on the budget. 


Nicola called for comprehensive restructuring and reforms within the public sector, noting the presence of numerous unproductive employees appointed through political parties, which contributes to the sector’s bloated size and inefficiency.

She called for prior implementation of radical structural reforms before any salary adjustments, hoping for improved administrative efficiency and increased revenue for the state’s treasury, underscoring that addressing the fundamental problems in sectors essential to public welfare is crucial for Lebanon’s recovery.

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