Lebanon is struggling to get rid of baby food subsidies

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The discriminatory public prosecutor’s office commissioned the Information Department of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) to investigate that baby food – which is supposed to be subsidized – has been missing in shops and pharmacies for weeks.

“There is a kind of social solidarity and a state policy to control prices in times of crisis in the world, but when there is a lack of baby food in the Lebanese market, it is not allowed to see it destroyed before our very eyes.” Activist Mahmoud Fakih told Arab News.

“Why didn’t the state prosecute the traders who monopolized and hid this milk? It seems the last thing traders think about is people who insist on continuing to make money in dollars. “

The Lebanese government avoids lifting the subsidies for articles, fears the resentment and leaves the matter to the Banque Du Liban (BDL), which is content with the suspension of payments to importers due to a lack of dollar funds.

In defense of the disposal of infant formula, the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) said: “It has been requested that these items be destroyed in 2019 and 2020 in the waste treatment facilities operated by the CDR in order to bury the waste in the sanitary landfill. This procedure applies to all goods that have to be damaged by their owners or by the competent authorities. “

TO MARK

The Internal Security Forces (ISF) should investigate that baby food has been missing in shops and pharmacies for weeks.

The company responsible for distributing food in Lebanon said in a statement: “These expired products were withdrawn from the market for disposal three months before their expiration date and were in accordance with protocols and expiration dates. Most of these products are from 2018, 2019 and early 2020, and the process to get an agreement to destroy them took more than a year due to the total lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. “

Bohsali pointed his finger at the BDL.

“The files on infant formula for ages one to three years included in the subsidized items have been pulled from BDL,” he said.

“The goods are delivered to the markets at a non-subsidized tariff. The milk price for children under one year of age is subsidized, similar to medicines, and traders cannot set the price. “

The Lebanese President Michel Aoun interfered and called on the relevant authorities and departments to “strictly pursue the monopolists and exploiters of the current circumstances that raise prices and make illegal profits”.

According to his media office, Aoun added that “Procedures have been initiated to address the fuel, medication, medical care and infant formula crisis.”

A joint report by the International Labor Organization and UNICEF in May warned that “the abolition of the only remaining form of Lebanese state-funded social assistance will lead to a significant deterioration in the living standards of the poor and the middle class, in the absence of comprehensive, adequate and lasting social protection guarantees implemented. “

In a previous statement, UNICEF warned: “The poorest families could experience levels of deprivation that we have not seen in many years.”

It is a critical time for the most vulnerable Lebanese citizens, said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF’s Lebanon representative.

“Unless gaps are filled quickly with strong long-term welfare programs and most Lebanese are faced with very difficult circumstances, those who suffer from certain vulnerabilities are simply left without support,” she said.

According to the video on social media, the disposal of the infant formula took place on Tuesday morning. It provided even more ammunition for civil society organizations that held a protest march through the heart of Beirut on Tuesday afternoon.

The General Union is due to go on strike Thursday to demand the formation of a new government. Other unions continue to announce plans to join the strike, including a syndicate of bank employees.

While waiting for a new government to save the country, there is another scene of cars lining up near gas stations. Aggressive confrontations ensued between drivers waiting in lines desperate for gasoline.

Georges Fayyad, chairman of Lebanon’s Association of Petroleum Importers, expects gasoline prices to rise if the subsidies are completely lifted.

“Fuel importing companies put millions of gasoline in the market on Monday and Tuesday, but this is a temporary fix that will only take 15 days,” said Fayyad.

“The decision to lift the subsidies is not controlled by BDL, who have clearly stated that they have no money. The decision should be made by the government. “



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