Millions of liters of subsidized fuel hidden in underground tanks as well as tons of medicine and baby formula were seized following raids by the Lebanese security forces. The latest raid was carried out by Caretake Health Minister Hamad Hassan in South Lebanon where hundreds of boxes containing COVID-19, blood pressure meds, as well as antibiotics and infant formulas and many others were found.
Lebanese were all angered by these discoveries, especially after having spending weeks queuing at gas stations to fill up and desperately looking for meds and baby milk across pharmacies. However, the most infuriating part was that none of these “hoarders” were arrested and the Health Minister even went on TV to justify the actions of one of them.
But this comes as no surprise in a country ruled by mafias. It’s been over a year now that the medical body had warned the authorities about the hoarding of medicine but no actions were taken. Same for the fuel that we’re still subsidizing and is being smuggled on a daily basis.
The truth is: All those raids barely constitute 1% of the total amounts being smuggled and total qualities being hoarded, and these acts are being used as political cards and PR stunts for the upcoming elections. The scapegoats are the merchants of course, who are working for a bigger merchant that is protected by one of our many corrupt political parties. One example is “the raid operation that revealed a partnership between Hussein Fneish, brother of Hezbollah minister Mohammed Fneish, and Issam Ahmed Khalifa, of the NewPharm Company in Lebanon.”
Who remembers the raids on the rotten meat warehouses? the rotten chicken warehouses? The supermarkets? the fraudulent meds? The fake cancer drugs at the RHUH? and many many others. How many got arrested? Were any of the investigations finalized? Were the shop owners sued and penalized? Probably not. In fact, one of the meds hoarders was selling unlicensed meds back in 2018 yet no one arrested him, and here he is today jeopardizing people’s lives to make an extra buck.
All in all, our real problem is still the dollar shortage and unless we stop subsidizing everything while strengthening our local product, things will only get worse. Until then, don’t get fooled by these raids especially as the elections are approaching.