BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt called on Lebanon’s officials to discard the big headlines and political "delusions" and work on policies that actually affect citizens’ lives.
“Why don’t all the political parties agree on the necessity of launching a wide reform campaign for the [public] administration, whose sectors suffer from waste, flabbiness and corruption?” Jumblatt asked in his weekly column in PSP’s Anbaa Online Magazine.
He called for the rejection of strategic and purely political stances and an agreement on a series of reforms that concern all the main sectors in the public administration.
“The Lebanese presidential election file has surpassed local borders, and its complications now range from Mosul to Damascus and beyond,” he said. “It would be beneficial to pose a series of living conditions-related questions that interest the citizen first, before his interest in this comedic presidential play."
Jumblatt’s questions tackled the dozens of problems related to corruption and policymaking in Lebanon.
“Why aren’t there any radical and bold decisions concerning electricity and water, the two sectors that cost the budget $2 billion a year?” he asked.
The Druze leader called for the establishment of new plants to end the electricity problem and avoid adding to the “$19 billion in losses since the late 1990s.” He also condemned what he called the “electric generators mafia that intimidate citizens,” calling for limits to be put in place.
Jumblatt also mentioned seafront private properties that illegally occupy public lands, asking: "Why are these violations always excluded from any attempt to search for sources to fund the state budget?”
He mentioned that there was a draft law proposed in 2006 concerning this, asking why the ministries could not present accurate studies about the potential revenues of taxing private businesses occupying Lebanese coasts.
The PSP leader also touched on the Union Coordination Committee and the ranks and salaries scale issue, calling on the workers to present a new objective approach to the policy that provides for their rights without harming the budget.
He called for the restoration of the Lebanese University’s academic and administrative independence, saying it had become “a political bazar.”
Bringing up the issue of corruption and waste at the Customs Department, Jumblatt said that once reformed, this department could “seriously increase the tax revenues that have been significantly declining despite the increase in imports from 2008 to 2014.”
Jumblatt condemned tax evasion by individuals and private businesses that have deprived the Lebanese treasury of $1.25 billion, according to his own figures.
Jumblatt summarized his concerns with two final questions: “Why don’t we pay attention to some small details and leave the great strategies to the analysts and intellectuals on the TV screens?”
“Why don’t we offer tangible steps to the Lebanese citizen that will improve his living conditions and attempt to fill the huge gap separating him from his state?” he said.
Separately, Jumblatt commented on the events in occupied Palestine, saluting “the Palestinian resistance and heroic people."
“There it is, the new intifada that will witness the fall of the Israeli occupation policy, which aims at nullifying the Palestinian cause and transforming it into a mere humanitarian issue,” Jumblatt said.