On Thursday January 25 a third meeting of the world’s richest countries took place with great pomp in Paris in order to find funds for Lebanon. By giving hundreds of billion dollars, France and the United States claim to help this country that is crippled by its debt and was a victim of Israel’s military aggression in the summer of 2006.
Back in August 2006, the CADTM wrote, “From now on, Lebanon will have to call on foreign capital for help to rebuild itself. This implies a renewed increase in the country’s debt and new economic measures of structural adjustment which determine it. As a result, the Lebanese people will have to pay very dearly, in the coming years, for the consequences of this war inflicted by Israel in violation of the international treaties that govern relationships between States.” Given the current situation, every word of this is more than ever true.
A sizable portion of the 7.6 billion dollars promised during the Paris conference corresponds to loans that will therefore have to be fully reimbursed. They will inflate a huge debt that has already reached $41 billion and represents 180% of the country’s GDP !
This debt allows creditors to maintain their grip upon the Lebanese economy. This is the reason why Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has proposed a reform programme that serves their interests. The CADTM condems this programme of ultra-liberal reforms which hits poorer people hard while favoring a minority of the population and the larger companies in the wealthy countries: an increase in VAT, privatisations of several companies such as mobile telecommunications in 2007 and Lebanon Telecom in 2008, a reduction in the number of state employees, etc.
This very self-interested aid from the richest countries strengthens Fouad Siniora’s government and serves their political interests as well. Far from proposing a solution for the Lebanese people, the Paris Club does not at all seek to fight poverty or break the powerful domination mechanism of debt.
Once again, the CADTM states that the only possible solution for Lebanon lies in immediate cancellation of its debt, the abolition of structural adjustment policies and the creation of a fund for reconstruction which would be fed by reparations paid for by Israel. A contribution from the United States, who supports and finances the state of Israel, should be added. Only then will it be possible to say that justice has been done to the Lebanese people.