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24 April 2019
MARKETS

Lebanon: State of play

Banker Middle East’s Lebanon country expert, Dr. Salim Sfeir, Chairman and General Manager of Bank of Beirut, candidly shares his views on the Lebanese economy We have reached the moment of truth.

DR. SALIM SFEIR, CHAIRMAN AND GENERAL MANAGER OF BANK OF BEIRUT/SUPPLIED


Business cannot continue as usual. Decades of fiscal irresponsibility, corruption and nepotism drained the treasury and shook the pillars of the economy. Global economies go through ups and downs, recessions and booms.

Sometimes it is because of bad economic policies or unexpected turbulences, but our economy is suffering mainly from mismanagement and short sightedness. It is self-inflicted harm. There is a general consensus among various political factions that the economy should be a priority.

This is a good sign, however there are worrying signs that the approach to remedy the situation may exacerbate the situation instead of fixing it. It is common sense not to raise taxes at the time of economic slowdown.

What the country needs is to jump start the economy and to return to sustainable economic growth. The world and the Lebanese public expect the government to introduce meaningful reforms and fight corruption, in order to gain the trust of the private sector and the international organisations who expressed willingness to help Lebanon.

I warn against some voices calling to punish the banking sector, because of its success. The profitability of the banking sector is what helped the Lebanese economy over the past decades. Bankers are not robbers, go after the bank robbers.  

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