Lebanon’s people will have to make sacrifices, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday, as the country’s new government held a meeting for the first time.
Mikati recently formed an administration, ending a 13-month period of uncertainty in which political leaders fought over ministerial positions as the economy deteriorated. “The country requires exceptional measures. We all have to sacrifice,” Mikati said from the presidential palace in Baabda.
The Cabinet must now build a plan to save the country from a socio-economic catastrophe and enact reforms crucial to unlocking billions of dollars in loans and debt relief.
Mikati expressed that his government would “deal with the issue of fuel and medicine to stop the humiliation of the people.”
Lebanon has been hit by severe shortages of imported goods such as petrol and medicine, which are subsidized by the government. The central bank’s foreign-currency reserves have dwindled drastically since an economic crisis hit in late 2019, severely restricting the imports of subsidized products.
People have been forced to queue for hours at petrol stations to fill their tanks, with many calling them “lines of humiliation.”
The lack of fuel has also affected electricity sources, both from state-owned power plants which run on fuel oil and diesel-powered private generators that make up the shortfall in the state supply. Extended power cuts have affected the functioning of hospitals and other essential businesses.