BEIRUT: Lebanese banks will close their businesses Wednesday in solidarity with the Economic Committees, a body that represents private sector groups, to demand the immediate formation of a Cabinet.
One banker said that banks would definitely close Wednesday.
“Of course we will close all branches Wednesday. I advise any person who wants to withdraw money or deposit cash to come tomorrow,” the banker told The Daily Star.
Wednesday’s action will be one of the few times in the history of the sector that banks join a general strike in the country.
Meanwhile, the Economic Committees intensified their efforts to ensure the success of the strike Wednesday amid indications that some merchants and businesses could remain open Wednesday.
The Economic Committees, which groups most businesses and bank associations in the country, said the purpose of the strike was to show the private sector’s displeasure over the failure of politicians to form a Cabinet.
Business leaders have repeatedly complained that the absence of a government has dealt a severe blow to the economy in general, noting that many businesses and restaurants were forced to shut down as a result of the economic slowdown.
But some merchant associations announced Monday that they might refrain from joining the strike, although they sympathize with demands of the Economic Committees.
The Badaro Merchant Association said in a statement that they would remain open Wednesday, arguing that businesses could not afford to shut down even for one day.
It remained unclear exactly how many and businesses across the country would join the strike.
Several labor unions and employee associations declined to say if they supported the move of private businesses.
The caretaker ministers of economy, tourism and industry earlier said that the strike of the Economic Committees would serve no purpose.
They added that the strike would only hurt the already fragile economy and would surely not induce politicians to form a Cabinet quickly.
However, private sector leaders argue that politicians have turned a deaf ear to repeated calls for political parties to cast aside their differences.
The business leaders stress that the presence of a Cabinet, irrespective of its composition, would boost the confidence of investors. They also complain that bills and projects to boost the economy have been shelved due to the lack of a government.
They also argue that the caretaker Cabinet cannot keep spending money above the official budget ceiling and borrow more money to meet its needs, underlining the importance of implementing economic and administrative reforms.