Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil on Sunday said several parties must bear the country’s huge financial losses, as he warned religious leaders against “protecting corrupts” for sectarian reasons.
“We ask the government to move forward and not to retreat, seeing as the entire country and people are suffering and there is no sectarianism, a targeted campaign or a coup attempt,” Bassil said in a televised address, amid heated accusations between the government and its opponents.
The government “started diagnosing” the flaws and “taking measures,” which prompted “those whom accountability would be detrimental to them to attack it,” Bassil added.
“We call for speeding up the approval of the government’s (financial and economic) plan and the issue must not exceed this week, as it has promised. It must then head to international institutions, especially the International Monetary Fund, to negotiate with it on obtaining the conditions that would suit us and at the same time confine us in order to implement the necessary reforms.”
He added: “Every crisis has its benefits and opportunities, and the most important opportunity from this crisis could be dropping wrongdoers’ sectarian protections. The top religious authorities, both Christian and Muslim, should beware of wasting the chance by seeking to provide sectarian protection for the wrongdoers at a time they have been calling for heeding the voice of the people.”
Responding to those who have criticized the government and its premier in recent days, some of whom are religious leaders, Bassil said “it is not a coup against the free financial system if the government has decided to shoulder its responsibilities.”
“At the same time, it is not reasonable to say that the central bank is solely to blame, seeing as parliament and government are responsible for allowing it to carry on with its mistakes without carrying out the necessary rectification,” the FPM chief went on to say.
Noting that his party supports the restructuring of banks according to international standards, Bassil said it opposes imposing any “arbitrary policies on the banks with the aim of taming and subjugating them.”
“They should be allowed to manage their affairs in line with standards laid out by the state and the central bank that would be appropriate for the rise of the sector and the economy,” Bassil added.
“At the same time, I warn against any intention to destroy or usurp the banking sector for any political motives. We will not tolerate this and we will continue to defend the freedom of the banking sector, which is a main pillar of the Lebanese economy,” Bassil vowed.
He lamented that political rivals have “threatened a civil war should the money they stole or transferred abroad be touched.”
Bassil also suggested that there should be a “fair distribution of losses” among several parties.
“The losses must be borne by the thieves, corrupts, greedy beneficiaries, banks and their owners and contributors, the central bank and the state’s policies and officials,” he said.
Noting that there is only one “quick and effective law” that can “distinguish corrupts from upright individuals, which is a law for unveiling financial accounts and properties,” Bassil said he admits that it would be difficult to pass such a law because “it would expose the corrupts.”
But he called on all those who practice public service to “do this thing on their own” without the presence of a law.