BEIRUT — President Michel Aoun approved on Friday the formation of the National Council for Price Policy, a first since the legal body was introduced via decree in 1974, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Here’s what we know:
• Economy Minister Amin Salam described the formation as an “achievement, given the benefits it will provide for Lebanese consumers” and announced he would call its first meeting in the coming days.
• The council regroups members of public administration and labor unions who will cooperate on setting pricing strategies, a task which had been handled solely by the Economy Ministry through its consumer protection division.
• The formation comes at a time of continued economic crisis marked by currency depreciation and sharp increases in prices, with April inflation figures showing a 206.24 percent increase year-on-year and a 7.1 percent increase over March prices. On Friday, the state-set prices of fuel, on which subsidies were lifted during the past year, and bread, which is still subsidized, increased while the lira plunged in value.
• The original 1974 decree calling for the council’s formation outlines its responsibilities as “tracking price movements and studying the external and internal factors that affect it and submitting forecasts for at least three months”; “submitting proposals that lead to setting the correct limits for service charges and prices of locally produced and imported goods”; “submitting proposals that help adopt a general policy for prices and supplies and to determine profit rates.”
• The council’s leadership is comprised of the economy minister as chairman and director general of the Central Administration of Statistics as deputy chairman. Its members are the director general of the Economy Ministry, director general of the Finance Ministry, director general of the Tourism Ministry, director general of the Labor Ministry, director general of the Agriculture Ministry, director of consumer protection, a representative of the Banque du Liban (the director of statistics and economic research at the bank), president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, president of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, and three representatives of the General Labor Union Bechara Asmar, Hassan Fakih and Saad Eddin Hamidi Saqr.