The cost of living in Lebanon's inflated economy

The alleged justifications as to why prices continue to increase and the assertion that the inflation will remain stable fail to numb the suffering of people.
by Ghadir Hamadi and Fatima Al Mahmoud

24 September 2018 | 14:32

Source: by Annahar

Put in context, the alarming inflation is considered a result of economic wane. (Annahar Photo)

BEIRUT: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) surged a total of 7.6 percent in July compared to the same month last year, according to the Central Administration of Statistics. The CPI, which measures changes in the prices paid by consumers for a basket of goods and services, serves as an indicator of the sustained increase of prices under the Lebanese economy.

According to Bank Audi’s Lebanon Weekly Monitor, this is the highest inflation level recorded in five years. Many Lebanese have found themselves in a state of hectic frenzy as prices continue to rise.

“I’m a father of five children in school,” said Sami Ezzeddine. “How am I supposed to financially support them when my salary remains the same, but prices increase?”

All categories under the CPI basket witnessed a price increase driven by additional taxes, hikes of teachers’ salaries, and continuing global rises in oil prices, Credit Libanais mentioned in its latest report.

University student Aya Rammal told Annahar that she works two jobs to support herself and it still isn’t enough. “I really don’t know what to do anymore, I used to be able to barely get by and cover my transportation costs, tuition fees, and daily expenses.”

Rammal said that she’s pondering taking a break from education this year, to save money, and enroll the following semester. “Everything is becoming too expensive, it’s getting really unbearable,” she said.

Put in context, the alarming inflation is considered a result of economic wane.

“It technically is a failure of the post-war economic strategy,” said Hussein Alameh, a business graduate working in insurance. He further explains that the reliance on the lira being pegged to the dollar, depending on expats' money transfers, and borrowing money at high interest rates to finance the government expenditure - which is already corrupted - has backfired and led to the Lebanese economy in its current state.

However, the alleged justifications as to why prices continue to increase and the assertion that inflation will remain stable fail to numb the suffering of people.

Aside from the unreasonable and expensive cost of merely living in this country, Mohamad Mokbel deals with hospital bills, medical expenses, and skyrocketing drug prices. In an attempt to secure a sustainable income to finance his living, Mokbel is shut down for being “overqualified.”

“I speak four languages, I have a Master’s degree, 10 years’ of experience, and I can't find a job,” he told Annahar.

As an alternative, he resorts to freelancing or selling personal possessions to pay rent, bank loans, phone and utility bills.

Another citizen told Annahar that after graduating and establishing a career abroad, he was forced to move back home to help his parents financially, a decision they were not ecstatic about. 

“Every parent wants to see their child do better and save up money and have a better life,” he explained, “but unfortunately life isn't that easy.”

With an ill father working at a bankrupt company and a blue-collar mother who, alone, cannot provide enough, it became very difficult for his parents to sustain ife in Lebanon on their own.

“I would not have set foot in this country ever again had my parents been well-off,” he said, adding.

In line with the alarming price surges, others didn’t seem as alarmed.

“This is Lebanon for you, just when you think we’re going to go into economic bankruptcy, we don’t,” stated Ali Madi, a Business Management graduate, with a grin. “Obviously our economy isn’t going to get patched up overnight, but we will survive as we usually do.”

However, the survival of one is a harsh reality for another, especially for those who had to close down their businesses, like Adam Bou Hamdan, a Masters of Film student whose mother had to shut down her beauty clinic and health parlor due to the worsening economy.

“Most of my friends have left the country by now, and I will too, the second I graduate,” he told Annahar.


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