Lebanese are gripped by worry as economic meltdown speeds up
Shops closing, companies going bankrupt and pharmacies with shelves emptying — in Lebanon these days, fistfights erupt in supermarkets as shoppers scramble to get to subsidized powdered milk, rice and cooking oil.
Like almost every other Lebanese, Nisrine Taha’s life has been turned upside down in the past year under the weight of the country’s crushing economic crisis. Anxiety for the future is eating at her.
Five months ago, she was laid off from her job at the real estate company where she had worked for years. Her daughter, who is 21, cannot find work, forcing the family to rely on her husband’s monthly salary which has lost 90% of its value because of the collapse of the national currency.
The family hasn’t been able to pay rent for seven months, and Taha worries their landlord’s patience won’t last forever. As the price of meat and chicken soared beyond their means, they changed their diet.
“Everything is very expensive,” she said.
Taha’s family is among hundreds of thousands of lower income and middle class Lebanese who have been plunged into sudden poverty by the crisis that started in late 2019 — a culmination of decades of corruption by a greedy political class that pillaged nearly every sector of the economy.
The Lebanese pound has lost more than 25% in value over the past weeks alone. Inflation and prices of basic goods have skyrocketed in a country that imports more than 80% of its basic goods. Purchasing power of salaries has dramatically declined and savings have evaporated — all on top of the coronavirus pandemic and a massive explosion last August at Beirut’s port that damaged parts of the capital.
More than half the population now lives in poverty, according to the World Bank, while an intractable political crisis heralds further collapse…..read more
Source: AP News