As Lebanon prepares to stop subsidies on the import of basic goods, concerns emerge about its repercussions on security in a country grappling with an unprecedented economic and financial crisis and a sharp depreciation of its local currency, media reports said on Thursday.
A “prominent” security source told MTV television station that Lebanon is going to face a big challenge, “not at the level of terrorism, but at the level of social protection and social security this time.”
The source indicated that lifting subsidies will inevitably increase burden on the Lebanese people, especially those below the poverty line, as “many could resort to illegal methods of collecting money, meaning an increase in thefts, extortion and kidnapping …,” said the source.
However, the security apparatuses are following up on the matter to determine the measures needed to limit the repercussions of this decision on the security level, he assured.
An unnamed international diplomatic figure, has also expressed concerns to MTV about the fate of Lebanese and social protection when subsidies on basic goods are put to a halt.
He said Lebanon’s security could be undermined especially in some areas where the rate of security violations and poverty are high.
A close political breakthrough seems distant, and the controversial process of forming a much-needed government seems unlikely.
Lebanon is locked in its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, with no end in sight.
The value of the Lebanese pound has plunged, driving up the price of crucial imports like food and fuel and triggering small but angry protests.
More than half of Lebanon’s population is poverty stricken and relies on subsidies, but a central bank demand for “an immediate plan to ration subsidies” is still incomplete.
The central bank plans to end subsidies on wheat, fuel and medicines before its foreign currency reserves run out.