Lebanese merchants hit back against sweeping increases in customs duties with a general strike in Beirut yesterday (Tuesday).
Lebanese merchants hit back against sweeping increases in customs duties with a general strike in Beirut yesterday (Tuesday). The strike, which storekeepers say will continue indefinitely, followed new duty charges on some 500 items including cars, liquor, perfume and soap. The increase is an much as 50 per cent.
Visnews cameraman Paul Nazarian filmed the effect of the strike upon Beirut, where the shopping centre resembled a ghost town yesterday.
SYNOPSIS: Fifteen-hundred merchants in Beirut are threatening a showdown with the Lebanese government. The shop and storekeepers started an indefinite strike on Tuesday that promptly paralysed the centre of the capital. And they say they won't reopen for business until the government lifts increased customs duties on nearly five-hundred luxury goods -- including cars, liquor and perfume. The increases are by as much as fifty per cent.
While the big shutdown continued, Prime Minister Saeb Salam was calling for an immediate dialogue with the merchants as the only constructive way to solve the dispute. Meantime, Lebanese newspapers were viewing the strike as the biggest challenge the Prime Minister has so far had to face. The new customs duties are intended to offset a deficit in funds for national development and social projects.