A leading Lebanese banker warned Thursday that if politicians fail to take the public’s interest into consideration, the private sector will take unprecedented action.
“We may resort to unprecedented action if politicians fail to take the interest of the Lebanese people into account,” François Bassil, the chairman of Byblos Bank, told the Central News Agency.
Bassil said the Economic Committees would step up pressure on the government to embark on a series of comprehensive reforms.
“This requires, before anything else, completing appointments essential to [reinvigorate the paralyzed administration,” he said.
Asked by the CNA whether Lebanon will face an economic collapse mirroring Greece if deteriorating economic and political conditions persist, Bassil said “everything is possible unless the government finds solutions.”
Bassil also stressed that U.S. pressure is not aimed at the Lebanese banking sector in general, but rather at ensuring banks to not lend to anyone who may be involved with money laundering or terrorist funding.
“Lebanese banks should more vigilant when it comes to dealing with suspicious persons who may be involved in illegal activities that could hurt the sector and the reputation of the country.”
The banker said that the recent U.S. Treasury decision to target four Hezbollah members for alleged money laundering has no bearing on the Lebanese banking sector.
Bassil put his weight behind President Michel Sleiman’s efforts to bring bickering Lebanese groups together in order to settle long-standing political differences.
But Bassil said he was not, for the most part, impressedby the recent performance of politicians.
Most bankers, investors and companies fear that political bickering and security instabilitywould deal a severe blow to the economy, he said.
They have stressed that the economy is already reeling from a severe recession, noting that growth is projected to be less than 2 percent at the end of 2012.