Two articles that I would like to highlight, the first from The Faster Times:
A lot of bright news for the Lebanese economy recently, starting with a banner tourist season, and culminating in the recent word that the IMF projects a GDP growth rate of 7 percent by the end of the year. But, as always with rosy macroeconomic data, there’s a dark and more treacherous underside.[…]
- Lebanon’s line of poverty at the moment is $4 per day, an impressively low number.
- By that measure, 28% of the population is living in poverty. If, as predicted by the Paris III study, the Lebanese government elects to raise the VAT from 10% to 15%, in order to help pay down the country’s massive debt […] that figure may rise to 47%.
- Meanwhile, inflation in Lebanon over the past year has hit basic living costs the hardest. Food products went up 16%; dairy went up even more: 25%.
Of course, the poorest sector, agriculture, is immune to the booming effects of tourism. As Antoine Hoyak of Lebanon’s farmer union points out about village life, “the only way to make money is agriculture. There is some tourism, some shops, but no industry.”
Which takes me to article number two from the Daily Star:
Uniceramic, Lebanon’s largest ceramics factory, declared its bankruptcy on September 17 after having incurred $10.18 million in losses and failing to find a way of funding its liquidity shortage, according to media reports.
I guess industry is not doing so well either. So, is our salvation limited to Gulf Arab tourists and expat Lebanese longing for a good time? At the moment, the answer seems to be yes.
Update – September 26, 2009: The Daily Star- High cost of production sees closure of Lebanese factories