Central Bank of Lebanon: Crime & Conspiracy By Rami Alame
Lebanon is going through the biggest financial crisis in its history and no it is NOT media spreading rumors. Lebanon is raising debt at historically high rates and struggling with keeping its currency afloat in an effort to make treasury bill payments and commit to other dues. Throughout the 90s and the years 2000, we have always glorified the financial policies that have been implemented in Lebanon and the strategy of the central bank and regulators to keep Lebanon in good standing but all experts are failing to say is that this was one of the worst strategies for Lebanon and I will explain why:
Lebanon is a stepping stone the Middle East and has always benefited from its excellent banking system to bring capital into Lebanon both from international investors and Expats looking to send money to their families. These remittances helped fund the economy and the private sector keeping Lebanon in a bubble for a long time. Nevertheless with globalization and radical changes in work environments around the world, Expats are sending less money and this Bubble is shrinking by the day. Instead what the central bank could have done was to actually work on policies that would create capital in Lebanon and enhance growth through adopting online payments when PayPal reach out to Lebanon's regulators back in 2012. Central Bank could have done a better job in embracing technology instead of siding with major banks and protecting their interests.
Furthermore, we would ask where is the Beirut Stock Exchange? Where are Debt markets and Capital Markets? Where are effective loans for industries? agriculture? Small companies. The answer would be IDAL, Circular 331 and a few other programs that only benefited the rich and wealthy but not the actual young builders of our country; these men and women who are working so hard every day just to meet month ends. And to top it off, the Central Bank and regulators fail to answer to scandals such as Bookwitty and the tens of Millions of Dollars taken by Venture Capital firms such as Leap Ventures and others and spent in France on French startups. As a matter of fact, the venture capital environment is also a major topic which I will tackle in a separate article but I would have loved to see VCs being managed by other than sons of government officials, or heads of large institutions and rather by real experts who can actually take the startup ecosystem to another level.
And then came loans. The central bank of Lebanon and its partners in crime the major banks are not giving small loans anymore and are rejecting requests from small entrepreneurs, families and young people looking to enhance their way of life. Indeed this is a crime against a whole generation of Lebanese, a whole generation who is unable to fulfill its dreams and build its future in its own country.
I don't want to be long as this is the style in which I write but note that there are so many crimes that have been committed by everyone in power from the 1990s till today and I don't care if they will receive any sanctions on this earth or elsewhere, but what I do care about is for everyone reading this to just take a small step towards helping young people in any way they can through a small offer or anything of the sort. Do it with people around you and this is how change starts...