Wazni Signs Urgent Draft Law for Funding Ration Cards

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Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni on Monday signed an urgent draft law prepared by the Premiership and aimed at “approving ration cards and opening an additional and extraordinary line of credit for funding them,” the National News Agency said.

Al-Akhbar newspaper had earlier reported that “after political blocs refused spending from the obligatory reserve” of the central bank, “the Premiership threw the ball yesterday in the court of the Finance Ministry.”

“The (caretaker) premier has referred the draft law related to ration cards to Finance minister Ghazi Wazni in order for the latter to propose sources to fund the card after it was settled that it would not be funded from the obligatory reserve,” the daily said.

“Everything related to rationalizing subsidization has been removed from the draft, seeing as that does not need a law to be approved, but rather measures by the central bank which are expected to be implemented after the approval of the card,” al-Akhbar added.

Shops closing, companies going bankrupt and pharmacies with shelves emptying — in Lebanon these days, fistfights erupt in supermarkets as shoppers scramble to get to subsidized powdered milk, rice and cooking oil.

The Lebanese pound has lost more than 25% in value over the past weeks alone. Inflation and prices of basic goods have skyrocketed in a country that imports more than 80% of its basic goods. Purchasing power of salaries has dramatically declined and savings have evaporated.

More than half the population meanwhile now lives in poverty, according to the World Bank, while an intractable political crisis heralds further collapse.

The vast majority of the population gets paid in Lebanese pounds, meaning their incomes decline further while prices shoot up and pensions evaporate. The crisis has also depleted foreign reserves, prompting stark warnings the central bank can no longer finance subsidies of some basic commodities, including fuel.

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