Dr. Nasser Saidi’s comments from a Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center event appeared in VOA News in an article titled “Lebanon Must Enact Drastic Reforms to Survive, Economists Say” published on 25th Jan 2021.
Dr. Saidi’s quotes are posted below.
Lebanon has the third-highest debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio in the world and is in need of extensive economic restructuring, Nasser Saidi, former minister of economy and trade in Lebanon, recently told the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center.
“If you look at other countries that have been in crisis — Greece, Argentina, Iceland — this goes well beyond that,” he said. “We are seeing real GDP declining in 2020 by about 20 percent. It had already declined by 7 percent in 2019. So, this is a massive depression, even greater than that in the 1930s, in the Great Depression.”
Saidi says billions of dollars of Lebanon’s stolen assets need to be recovered. Sanctions, such as those under the Magnitsky Act, can help, particularly if the U.S. and European Union coordinate their efforts to get Lebanon back on track. Saidi says Lebanon’s corrupt politicians and business elite “need to be held accountable for what they’ve done” to bring the country into such a dire situation.
“They’ve effectively destroyed Lebanon,” he said. “They’re now holding Lebanon hostage. The politicians in Lebanon will feel the bite, and particularly as you start getting perhaps the beginning of a dialogue with Iran and telling Iran: ‘You’ve got to hold Hezbollah back and let’s get the reform agenda moving in Lebanon.'”