The flame of the dollar is choking the joy of the Lebanese during the holidays…and the pharmacies are without medicine
The black dollar is skyrocketing, consuming its fire, the purchase value of the Lebanese pound, at an exchange rate that exceeds 45 thousand for one dollar.
Another type of feast:
And at a time when many were relying on income from the tourist movement during the holiday period and the injection of hard currency into the markets, which would cause a positive shock in the economic and financial figures, however, the “Eidiya” of the Lebanese was of a different kind, with the historic collapse of the lira in compared to the dollar, which did not spare its flames due to the prices of imported and manufactured goods.
And to make the suffering of the Lebanese complete, the Syndicate of Pharmacists warned that “the rapid growth of the dollar led to an almost complete cessation of the delivery of medicines and milk to pharmacies, and thus to their gradual loss”.
The search for medicine and infant formula has become an almost daily adventure for the Lebanese.
I move between pharmacies:
Aline, a mother of two, told Al-Arabiya.net: “She spends most of her time moving between pharmacies in the north and south and in Beirut to secure medicine for her parents and two children.”
She said: “Sometimes I can’t find the basic brand of medicine, so I have to secure it from abroad through my friends. I can’t imagine my family missing out on the medicine. The problem is that I have the money to buy it, but unfortunately it has been cut off.”
Desire to buy medicine:
At the same time, Zainab, the owner of a pharmacy in Beirut, explained to Al-Arabiya.net that for about a week there has been a demand to buy medicines as a result of the crazy growth of the dollar exchange rate.
She pointed out: “The biggest rush is to buy drugs for chronic diseases because of the fear that they will be discontinued. There is also a big rush to buy milk, especially for children under two years old, despite the fact that companies only deliver small quantities for us.”
Discontinuation of drug delivery and closure of pharmacies:
In this context, the head of the Pharmaceutical Union, Joe Salloum, told Al-Arabiya.net: “The drug crisis is not recent, but what is new today is that a large number of pharmaceutical companies have stopped supplying drugs to pharmacies as a result of the insane growth dollar exchange rate on the black market.”
And he warned: “Pharmacies are soon destined for forced closure if the crisis worsens, because the problem has become bigger than our ability as a union and as a Ministry of Health to confront it.” “The state is collapsing, and with it the health and hospital sector, and citizens will be the first target,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has set the prices of non-subsidized medicines at the level of 41,000 pounds, which is an unstable level, that is, it fluctuates according to the dollar exchange rate.
Pharmacy owners are waiting for a new decision from the ministry on increasing the price of non-subsidized drugs, after the dollar on the market exceeded 46,000 pounds.
Losses in dollars:
The pharmacists’ union said: “This difference in the price of the Ministry of Health and the exchange rate of the dollar on the black market has had a negative effect on pharmaceutical companies, forcing them to refuse to supply drugs to pharmacies, because they are in losses.”
In contrast to the severe shortage of many types of drugs, especially chronic ones, due to suspension of deliveries by companies, the domestic market is flooded with drugs smuggled from many countries.
Smuggled medicines from Iran, Turkey and Syria:
The Pharmacists Union revealed: “Today we are witnessing a crackdown on drug smuggling into Lebanon, after drugs subsidized by the Banque du Liban were smuggled abroad. There are expired drugs that have recently entered Lebanon illegally, coming from Turkey, Syria and Iran.”
And he emphasized: “The crisis requires a radical solution through the reorganization of institutions, that is, the election of the president, the formation of the government and the activation of the work of the Parliament, otherwise we will remain in a vicious circle.”
New customs dollars:
From the beginning of this December, Lebanon began to apply a new price in customs dollars, which was set at 15,000 Lebanese pounds instead of the previous price, which was equivalent to 1,500 Lebanese pounds, due to fears that this application would increase the prices of goods and commodities in the country that imports 86 percent of its materials.food.
Experts expect the dollar exchange rate to continue to rise and pass 60,000, with the official exchange rate of 15,000 starting next February instead of the official price of 1,500 pounds, which has lasted for decades.
In this context, economist Mounir Yunis told Al Arabiya.net, “The increase in wages in the public sector mainly contributed to the increase in demand for the dollar as a result of the increase in money supply.”
The fate of Venezuela and Iran:
He believes that “the increase in the price of medicines is the result of daily fluctuations in the dollar exchange rate on the black market, and this is a very dangerous thing that several countries, such as Venezuela and Iran, have already gone through.”
“The problem is not in the stock of drugs, but in their delivery to pharmacies at any price? That’s why drug dealers resort to stockpiling them, waiting for a certain “stability” of the exchange rate,” said Yunis.
He pointed out: “The effect of the exchange rate fluctuation will not be limited to the pharmaceutical sector, but will spread to supermarkets and convenience stores, as we will witness hourly fluctuations in consumer prices.”
After the holidays and black fate:
What most confuses and worries the Lebanese is the fate of the dollar after the holidays, when the expatriates return to their homes and the Lebanese are left to their fate.
“What awaits us after the holidays is very difficult. Banque du Liban’s reserves in hard currency have reached almost 10 billion dollars, and the presidential vacuum and political infighting, along with the absence of economic reforms, darken the scene,” said economist Mounir Younes.
An agreement with the IMF or else…
He added: “Our economy is sick and if we don’t sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, then we are heading for a deeper abyss than we are now, because an agreement with it would pump dollars into the balance of payments.”