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The middle class has almost disappeared in Lebanon

March 13, 2021 at 11:54 am

A Lebanese man raises a national flag during a protest against the government in Beirut, Lebanon on 21 October 2020 [AFP/Getty Images]

Popular protests have renewed in several Lebanese cities complaining of the aggravated economic crisis amid the worst wave of price hikes to have ever hit the country, Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.

The value of local currency has sharply decreased as the value of 10,000 Lebanese liras in the black market are equal to only one US dollar, with 1,510 liras for one US dollar in the official stock market.

This crisis has resulted in the lack of foreign currency and caused a price hike of 60 per cent in 2020 amid official warnings that the country is heading towards a total electricity blackout due to the lack of funds to buy the necessary oil for the electricity plants.

The Cost of Living Index showed in February that Lebanon is the country with the highest living costs among its Arab neighbours, and it is 24th among the world countries. However, it was 34th among 132 countries in 2020.

Economic expert Waleed Abu-Sulieman told Anadolu Agency that 80 per cent of the Lebanese imports are being paid for with foreign currency due to the deterioration of the value of liras.

READ: France: Lebanon’s politicians show no sign of saving their country

“Purchasing ability for the Lebanese has sharply decreased due to the deterioration of the lira price and rise of the cost of imports,” Abu-Sulieman said, pointing out that the middle class in Lebanon has disappeared.

He confirmed that poverty has increased by 55 per cent, and that 60 per cent of the people who receive social benefits have monthly payments of one million liras, equating to $100 in the black market.

Researcher in the International Information Company based in Lebanon, Mohammad Shamsuddin, shared that 8,000 small businesses have shut down since June.

He also said that 25,000 workers had lost their jobs since June 2020, expecting that the situation in the country would worsen if the political stalemate is not resolved.