| 25 February 2024, Sunday |

What is the World Bank’s condition to finance the ration card?

When it was approved to enact the ration card law, the aim was to keep pace with the phase of lifting subsidies on basic commodities and to secure social protection for the citizen who has lost more than 90 percent of his purchasing power. However, fuel prices are no longer subsidized, and thus the generator bills and transportation costs have skyrocketed. Medicines are no longer subsidized, and hospitalization have become only for wealthy people, in addition to the devaluation which raised the prices of all commodities.

Where is the promised ration card? Will it see the light before citizens die of starvation and illness? What is required by the World Bank to approve its financing?

While the citizen dies daily of starvation, disease, and destitution, the government and the ruling class are still misleading people that they are preparing to release the ration card to compensate the loss of his purchasing power. But the surprising fact is that the ration card project has been put aside for the time being.

Sources revealed to Sawt Beirut International (SBI) that the ration card has been put on hold. The reason is the lack of funds, contrary to what has been rumored. What had been agreed during Hassan Diab’s government is securing part of the funds from the loan granted by the World Bank for the public transport project in Beirut. But this is no longer available, because the World Bank, which granted a loan worth $246 million dollars to support social safety and direct financial support for the poorest, refused to release the funds for the public transport project to finance the ration card, before implementing the program to support the poorest families within the criteria and conditions it set, and to ensure transparency and good execution.

Consequently, the government continues its flimsy promises about the ration card, and is trying to delude citizens that it is working to release it. But it has actually put it aside until the World Bank confirms its transparent performance in dealing with the social safety project funded by it, which in turn has not yet begun its implementation because the law needs some amendments. For this purpose, Prime Minister Najib Mikati visited Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri yesterday to urge him to hold a legislative session to approve the required amendments that would allow releasing the funds from the Social Safety Net loan and start implementing it, hoping that the citizens forget the ration card when it starts paying monthly aid within the social safety net project.

The Governor of the Central Bank Riad Salameh, responded to the accusations leveled against him regarding some of the operations in the “Central Bank” that took place, as well as his personal wealth.

Salameh said in a statement that the audit would be shared with judicial authorities and other individuals as appropriate, and that he had never hidden his personal wealth. The statement stated that the audit office carried out its mission in accordance with international standards, and the prepared report will be submitted to judicial authorities and other persons when necessary.

Salameh’s statement was met with criticism, as some asked: How can someone appoint a self-audit company? Why was the audit office not named?

  • Sawt Beirut International