A day rarely goes by without Akel complaining about what it calls the ‘expensiveness’ people must cope with. The party either issues a written announcement, or one of its officials will make a statement to the press, criticizing the government for failing to “support society.” It also uses dramatic rhetoric, talking about “expensiveness taking giant proportions and bringing households and businesses to their knees.”
The government was living in its own world, refusing to take notice of economic indicators, showing that it “neither wants to nor can support society.” Day in, day out we hear the same things, as if people were not aware of the high prices and needed Akel to point this out to them. The party also refers to the bills it had drafted, reducing taxes, that would have brought down energy prices. The bills were approved by the legislature as they were backed by all opposition parties, but, quite rightly, sent back by the president.
On Tuesday it also cited the report by the Economy and Competitiveness Council which said that the prolonged increase in prices and inflation was considered by experts surveyed the biggest risk facing the economy in the next two years. Nobody could dispute this, but what Akel pretends not to understand is that there are no fixes to the problem caused by exogenous factors and not be government policy.
The party disingenuously suggests that the ‘expensiveness’ can be tackled if the government introduced the measures Akel was proposing, even though we all know this not to be the case. The government cannot issue decrees setting maximum prices for basic goods – one of the suggestions made in the past – or cut taxes to keep price rises under control. Nor can it borrow money in order to increase pensions.
All that can be done is offer targeted assistance to vulnerable groups as the government has done so far. But even for this, there are not unlimited funds available as Akel’s criticism implies. Nor is this the right time to complain about ‘stagnating’ wages. Pay rises, which according to communist economic thinking would help people cope with rising prices, will only make a bad situation worse, further fueling inflation.
We are sure Akel knows this, but it still feels duty-bound to exploit public discontent in order to score political points – there are elections in four months’ time. To be fair, none of the other opposition parties have been banging on about inflation, aware that there is next to nothing the government can do to stop it or to safeguard people’s incomes. Perhaps Akel will also show a sense of responsibility – eventually – and stop promoting its fantasy remedies.
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