Lebanon continues to suffer as strikes by the public sector and civil servants enter their second week, but the government continues on as normal.
The action is just the latest in a long series of protests by those frustrated at not having received what they were promised; clearly, ignoring the problem is no way to make it go away.
The government, unable to secure the funds for the pay raise, may cry that it is in an impossible situation, but if it was not sure that it could keep its promises, it should not have made them in the first place.
This was a situation it could have anticipated. Throughout its legislative process business leaders were vocal in their opposition to the increase, questioning where the money would come from. But rather than answer this question, the government replaced one problem with another; agreeing to the law to appease the public, but in reality merely extending the problem.
It has spent months looking for a way to boost Treasury funds to offset the wage hike, but has avoided doing so in ways that would harm fellow politicians’ interests.
Instead the government sits idly by as its citizens’ lives are disrupted by repeated strikes and protests. Parents are growing increasingly angry as the money they have put into their children’s education goes to waste, and they watch them fall behind.
Meanwhile, the government prescribes a painkiller for a situation that requires surgery. If the government feels national socioeconomic issues on this scale doe not deserve its attention and endeavor, then what hope is there for the country’s everyday problems?
It appears unable to come up with constructive responses to the problem that do not resort to traded accusations, infighting and more false promises.
If the underlying reasons behind this strike are not addressed now, the saga will be never-ending, entrenching the country’s socioeconomic woes, and further stymieing development.
These strikes affect everybody, regardless of sect, background or place of residence. Such a universal problem should be at the top of any government’s agenda.
If it is not, then the government has lost its sense of responsibility and its grip on what its role should be, and should cede power to those who are willing to use it to help the country progress.
Instead the government is watching the action unfold as though it is happening in another country, or in a TV soap opera. All it has offered are false promises, apparently in the hopes that those protesting will give up their cause, or that some miracle will change the situation.
Its attitude, which the country has seen numerous times before, of sweeping important issues under the carpet is short-sighted, and will instead cause them to grow until they are uncontrollable. If this government is unwilling to do its job, then it should at least step aside and let others do it for them.