For now over a month and a half, nationwide protests have shaken Lebanon, seriously disrupting daily life in ways that have many wonder: Is this worth it ? Major roads have been blocked, businesses and institutions have closed, companies are closing down, and demonstrators keep flooding the streets from North to South, their demands still not met. Shoppers have noticed a rise in prices as the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound against the U.S. dollar has dropped. Increase that is understandable for whatever is imported from abroad in dollars. Less understandable when there is no import involved…
The not so class(y) ways of an electronics store
Take the example of a mainstream electronics and cellular store: if you walk in any of their branches today, to renew your Internet Bundle, they will charge you 1,800 LBP for a dollar, claiming that is now the “on-going” rate on the market. Yet, if you speak directly to the Internet providers whose bundles they sell, those providers will tell you that they have kept the primary rate of 1,500 LBP. Someone is trying to make extra money at the expense of the people again. And this time, that someone is NOT the government. We might want to revolt against this type of abuse too.
When supermarkets play the Lebanese market
Another example: the country agent for several imported F&B products recently sent a note to all media to mention that in an effort to support the country’s economy, they would not increase their rates, despite the dollar issue. Very courageous in such a context. Yet, when visiting major supermarket chains, those same products by this specific agent had gained about 20% in price. Once again, retailers try to make money at the expense of the people. By not reacting, we are allowing a “parallel” market to develop. A market where everyone is above the law, trading commodities as they please, for the fare they please. In an already collapsing country, those methods should be punishable.
Wild wild Lebanon ?
The country is on the verge of a collapse, and it is time to remind everyone that had this uprising not happened now, there would still be a collapse, down the road. What the uprising did is quicken a process that was meant to be.
In those highly difficult times, we have seen it all: fake news, propaganda, conspiracy theories, attempts to corrupt the protests… True, the dollar reached a solid 1,800 LPB in the black market, instead of the normal 1,500 LPB. And some businesses sure are trying to take advantage of that in the most mischievous way, at the expense of whom? The people of Lebanon. God bless “the man on the street”, as even his own people are trying to play him.