BEIRUT: Speaking at Baabda Presidential Palace during a ceremony Tuesday to inaugurate the National Poverty Targeting Program (NPTP), President Michel Sleiman said that growing social misery in Lebanon must be confronted with immediate attempts at solution.
“Lebanon needs to rebuild its economy,” said the president, as he launched a project being funded by the World Bank and by the Italian, Canadian and Lebanese governments intended to reach people living in extreme poverty.
Sleiman assured the Lebanese that, despite the harsh living conditions imposed by the successive crises hitting the country, “social justice will remain a priority on the national agenda, away from Lebanon’s sectarian divisions.”
The president added that “the state bears a heavy burden in protecting society from collapse, as it pays more than LL733 billion yearly in health services to its employees and those on retirement programs.”
Lauding the efforts of the Social Affairs ministry, he pointed out that “the problem lies in random spending and a lack of [social welfare] safety nets.”
Meanwhile, Social Affairs minister Wael Abu Faour said that the first stage of the program, in which 33,000 Lebanese families benefited, would be succeeded by others.
“The program disregarded the sectarian and political affiliations of these people. We don’t know anything about such affiliations and we don’t care,” he stressed.
Sleiman pointed out that according to statistics, 28.5 percent of people in Lebanon live in poverty, with 8 percent in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $2.4 per day. Around 300,000 people are unable to meet their basic food needs.