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Yes, indeed, we also have our sacred cows, those perpetual taboos that must never be tampered with, those economic incests of the sphere of power. To illustrate this sacred herd, here is a small sample that is far from exhaustive.

1- The Gold. Every so often, we proudly boast that the Central Bank (BDL) holds 288 tons of it (currently worth $17 billion), ranking second regionally and 19th globally. All while praising former governor Elias Sarkis for his successful management in this regard.

Then, we foolishly continue that it must not be touched, because “it is our last line of defense.” But defense against what? The devaluation of the currency? That ship has already sailed, thank you, we’ve lost its value 60 times over. After the even more abyssal fall during the years and years of war. Defense against a severe financial crisis? The cobra is already up to our tonsils with the simultaneous bankruptcy of the state, the BDL, the banking sector and the depositors.

Yet proposals to make use of this gold have abounded over the past four years. Solutions elaborated by economists are certainly more competent than the ignorant rogues propelled to power by one of those space-time continuum loopholes. Repurchase of Eurobonds, mortgage, investment, pledge, credit, productive investments… and other fruitful uses still. But to no avail.

2- Privatization. The idea dates back a long time, since Rafic Hariri’s first plan, most of which was supposed to be realized through BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer). The laws followed, one after the other (2000, 2002, …, 2017), generally under pressure from donors during the Paris conferences. Encompassing all forms of privatization: sale, BOT, securitization, concession, delegated management, public-private partnership, etc.

Regulatory Authorities have even been provided for, Superior Councils set up. Secretaries-general recruited. Dozens of brochures on specific projects planned, developed and stacked. For zero results. Zilch. Consequently, nobody trusts us anymore, and aid has dried up, except for humanitarian aid.

What do we have on the opposite side? The cult of “keeping everything within the state’s purview.” A sweetened, angelic way of saying, “It is forbidden to take away our golden geese.” Even those not yet exploited, like state-owned properties, “You never know, we always hope to get our hands on them one day.”

3- Decentralization. Yet another of those enduring taboos… since the Taif Agreement, which provided for extended decentralization. Since then, draft laws have been rotting in the drawers of Parliament, occasionally dusted off and then buried again. Here too, the bigwigs of power fear the drying up of the faucet of multifaceted profits: hiring supporters, juicy contracts, kickbacks, sectarian favoritism…

To conceal these real objectives, the usual specters of “camouflaged partition” and “isolationists” are brandished, going as far as accusations of collusion with the Zionist enemy “whose objective is to fragment all the countries around it to legitimize its religion-based formula.” Anything goes to keep away this scarecrow that represents the transfer of power and finances from the central state to the regions.

4- Administration reform. A nursery rhyme told to you from a young age, regardless of your age. It’s a fiction that you take for an imminent reality because some official brandishes the banner, announcing a revamp of their administration, starting with the “computerization project” of a department. In the end, it’s just two new computers to download the latest version of Candy Crush Saga.

Concurrently, the situation is exacerbated according to a well-rehearsed script consisting of two successive steps. First step: the minister or other bigwig cries out in despair because “the lack of staff in my department has reached 60%, according to the administrative framework provided by the law.”

A phrase that deserves a little clarification: these “administrative frameworks” were, for the most part, developed in the 1960sin other words, in a Jurassic era where administrative dinosaurs at best had a calculator per floor. With current computer means, two operators can manage an entire department, even without resorting to the new “artificial intelligence,” not even the “natural” one for that matter.

Second step: “Since we urgently need staff, we will recruit contractual workers.” In other words, cramming in incompetent supporters who do not, as legally required, go through the Public Service Council or any type of competition.

5- Then all the others. To the sacred cows above, we can add a whole herd of calves. Situations and status quo that have lingered for years, serving the interests of one and all, with no hope of improvement. They have, for example, titles such as:

Public transport, which they refuse to organize and modernize despite the aborted efforts of the World Bank and France;

– The five or six state medical coverage funds that they refuse to unify despite incessant calls and economic logic. Each to their plundering preserve;

– And while we’re at it, a Hezbollah that causes us colossal losses every year; still, many court it or dare not oppose it, in the name of fighting the enemy, but in reality hoping for some future profit.

In short, if profiteers insist so much on keeping these sacred cows intact, it’s because, as one comedian amused himself by summarizing, they hope to make the best steak tartare out of them.

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