Friday, July 15, 2011

Who owns the land? How did they come to own it?

ما قل ودل
اشترى النائب وليد جنبلاط قطعة أرضٍ كبيرة، تقع بالقرب من ملعب الصفا، حيث توجد بيوت التنك، وتبلغ مساحة هذه الأرض 20 ألف متر، وقد اشتراها بعشرات ملايين الدولارات. ويتفاوض جنبلاط مع القاطنين في هذه الأرض لإخلائها، مقابل تعويضات ماليّة. كما اشترى جنبلاط عدداً من الأراضي الممتدة من منزله في كليمنصو إلى عين المريسة.
Rough translation: Walid Jumblat just purchased a 20,000 sqm piece of land near the Safa sports field where the shanty town is located. He paid tens of millions of $. He is negotiating with those who live in the shacks to leave in exchange for some payment. He also sold a number of pieces of land around his house in the Clemenceau area to Ain el Mreisseh.
Land is the safest and easiest way to launder money. Land is also used by capitalists as a commodity which embodies capital and therefore shields it from taxation. It is also a high return investment through real estate speculation. I am increasingly obsessed with these two questions: Who owns the land in Lebanon? How did they come to own it?
Meanwhile, Charbel Nahas, the excellent Minister of Labor is campaigning for the introduction of a capital gain tax on land and to use the returns to finance the services sector, especially social security and health services. Let's see if the capitalists in his own political camp (the new majority) and his prime minister the billionaire Mikati will allow him to do that

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