Lebanese Elite at Fault for Country's Poverty, and Doing Little to Fix Problem: Report

The World Bank has released a report accusing Lebanon's elite of contributing to an economic depression that has threatened the country's stability and social peace.

"Deliberate denial during deliberate depression is creating long-lasting scars on the economy and society," said World Bank Mashreq Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha in a press release. "Over two years into the financial crisis, Lebanon has yet to identify, least of all embark upon, a credible path toward economic and financial recovery."

Jha added that the government needs to create a recovery plan to help the country avoid social and economic destruction.

According to the Associated Press, the country's current economic problems began in October 2019 and have resulted in 75 percent of the population falling into poverty. Additionally, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value, and access to savings accounts has been impacted by banks implementing informal capital controls.

In the report titled "The Great Denial" issued by the World Bank, data shows Lebanon's rising inflation now ranks third globally at 145 percent, behind Venezuela and Sudan.

LEBANON-ECONOMY-CRISIS-STRIKE
The World Bank released a report accusing Lebanon's elite of contributing to an economic depression that has threatened the country's stability and social peace. Above, a Lebanese protester holds a sign as fuel tankers block a road in the country's capital of Beirut during a general strike by public transport and workers unions over the country's economic crisis on January 13. ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images

In a press release, the Save the Children NGO called for the Lebanese government to stabilize the economy and prevent children and family suffering.

Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children's Country Director in Lebanon, said the situation in Lebanon is spiraling out of control and the pound's value continues to drop.

"A single tank of gas for a small car now costs more than an entire monthly salary on minimum wage," Moorehead said in the press release. "The children and families we work with tell us every day of the impossible choices they have to make between food and rent, electricity and medication, and sending their children to school."

Reuters reported that Lebanon faces the economic crisis after previous governments accumulated large, unsustainably financed debt levels.

According to the AP, despite the country investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, tap water is widely undrinkable, the electricity cuts out 22 hours a day, roads are full of holes, trash pollutes the streets and the sewage system floods whenever it rains.

"The poor and the middle class, who were never well served under this model in the first place—the country was one of the most unequal in the world pre-crisis—are carrying the main burden of the crisis," the World Bank report states.

This report came after Beirut officials resumed negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, which began last year but were paused after political arguments, according to the AP.