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ECONOMIC CRISIS

Rai calls on the government to restore the financial system

Rai calls on the government to restore the financial system

Bechara al-Rai, head of the Maronite Church. (Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIRUT — The head of the Maronite Church Bechara al-Rai on Sunday called on the government to “restore the financial system” in order to cope with the “arbitrary situation at the banking and economic levels” from which Lebanon’s residents continue to suffer.

The patriarch also called for the repatriation of Syrian refugees “in the name of Lebanon’s neutrality” and contended that the absence of a “Lebanese, Arab and international political decision [to this effect] is beginning to take the form of a plot” against the country.

An uncertain situation

In his Sunday homily, the prelate deplored the fact that the Lebanese live in an “arbitrary situation at the banking, economic, commercial and tourist levels.”

“The government can only solve this situation by restoring the financial system, by controlling the state’s revenues through the collection of taxes from everyone, in all Lebanese regions, by controlling airport, port and border revenues, by stopping smuggling to or from the country and by investing in maritime properties,” he said.

In this context, Rai deplored the banking restrictions imposed on depositors in view of the financial collapse of the country as well as the limitation of payments by bank cards.

He also called on “Banque du Liban to consider school fees as a priority” and to authorize certain banking procedures allowing parents to pay the amounts due to academic institutions. The patriarch also asked that the salaries of teachers, hit hard by the crisis, be fully paid.

Repatriation of refugees

In the name of neutrality, we demand the repatriation of Syrian refugees,” Rai continued, noting that this is “linked to a Lebanese, Arab and international political decision.”

Refugees constitute nearly 35 percent of the population in Lebanon.

“The absence of this decision [to repatriate refugees] is beginning to take the form of a plot against the country’s entity, its unity, its identity and its security,” he noted.

“Their cause must be resolved quickly, especially after the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the resurgence of new waves of migration in Europe and the world,” he added.

The head of the Maronite church once again deplored the Russian-Ukrainian war and called for its end. In this context, he again spoke in favor of the principle of Lebanon’s neutrality.

“The neutrality of Lebanon, which is an integral part of its identity … requires that the state is strong thanks to its army and its security services, so that it can impose its sovereignty internally and externally and respond to any aggression through its own forces,” he said.


This article was originally published in French in L’Orient-Le Jour.


BEIRUT — The head of the Maronite Church Bechara al-Rai on Sunday called on the government to “restore the financial system” in order to cope with the “arbitrary situation at the banking and economic levels” from which Lebanon’s residents continue to suffer. The patriarch also called for the repatriation of Syrian refugees “in the name of Lebanon’s neutrality” and contended...