Comments on the impact of the war in Gaza on Lebanon in The National, 14 Feb 2024

16 February, 2024
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Dr. Nasser Saidi’s comments appeared in an article in The National titled “Lebanon’s economy reels as cost of damages from Gaza war soar” published on 14th February 2024.

The comments are posted below.

Nasser Saidi, a former economy minister and deputy governor of Lebanon’s central bank, told The National that the violence has caused extensive damage to buildings, infrastructure and private property, adding up to huge losses for Lebanon’s already struggling economy. More than 65,000 people have been displaced in Lebanon because of the war. Trade, tourism, hospitality as well as agriculture and aviation are some of the sectors that have been hit hard.

“The direct attacks in the south of Lebanon heighten uncertainty, inflict damage and destruction to an already impoverished region of the country and inevitably augment the country’s burdens,” Mr Saidi, who is also head of consultancy Nasser Saidi and Associates, said.

“Already, Lebanon’s four main economic pillars, trade and tourism, health, education, banking and finance have been decimated by the ongoing crisis and lack of reforms. Not to mention the long-term scarring effects from the mass migration of Lebanon’s human capital which will accelerate if there is an escalation or war in Lebanon.”

The agriculture sector has been particularly affected by the fighting. “South Lebanon and Nabatieh are major agricultural hubs accounting for 21.5 per cent of Lebanon’s cultivated areas and damage to the sector will result in loss of the means of livelihood and income,” Mr Saidi said.

“Any escalation [in the conflict] to the wider nation would be disastrous for a country already reeling from political, economic, and social woes – rebuilding would likely take decades rather than years,” Mr Saidi said.

 

Comments made during this interview were also included in The National’s Editorial on 16th February 2024

“Disastrous”, “decimated” and “impoverished” – these are just some of the words used by Nasser Saidi, a former economy minister and deputy governor of Lebanon’s central bank, to describe his country’s fragile state this week. In an interview with The National published on Wednesday, he outlined how Lebanon’s economic problems – which the World Bank has called one of the worst global financial crises since the middle of the 19th century – were being exacerbated by the spreading violence of the Israel-Gaza war.
According to Mr Saidi, the escalation of the conflict will drive “mass migration” from Lebanon. Rebuilding would “likely take decades rather than years”, he added.

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