SUN 16 - 6 - 2019
Date: Dec 13, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
The doctrine of hope-making for Lebanon
Hiba Huneini

Lebanon is passing through another phase of political vacuum: social and political disturbances, political deadlock in forming a new government and security risks on the southern border. We are on the edge of turmoil and violence, and some actors have found a chance to invest in increasing polarization in an attempt to fuel chaos.

However, there is another school - one of hope-making - that insists on investing in the future amid the darkest circumstances.

This school rejects the narratives of the chaos-mongers and instead seeks to spread the narratives of hope and development.

The Lebanon-U.K. Business and Investment Forum is an example of the activism of this school of hope. The forum is being held today in London, where Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, along with a delegation of caretaker ministers, MPs, private sector leaders and advisers will discuss the bilateral relationship and cooperation with their British counterparts.

The Lebanese government will be presenting its vision for stabilization, growth and employment within the outputs of the CEDRE conference. The Capital Investment Program, public-private partnerships and investment in the oil and gas sector will be topics for discussion among Lebanese and British stakeholders.

The U.K. plays a key role in supporting Lebanon to mitigate the impact of the Syrian crisis through humanitarian and educational programs for refugees and host communities. It also continuously supports formal and nonformal education and economic development in Lebanon through international development mechanisms.

The role of the private sector is vital in any developmental process, since socio-economic development can no longer be achieved without public-private partnerships. International experience and current trends show that the role of the private sector is instrumental in fostering innovation, effectiveness and job creation.

The private sector has been a major stakeholder in ensuring Lebanon’s stability amid surrounding transformations and political divisions, whether due to internal dynamics or regional spillovers. The Lebanese government is creating an enabling business environment by removing obstacles to private sector investments. For this reason, the vision for stabilization, growth and employment that was presented at the CEDRE conference includes an essential component of structural and sectoral reforms that will lead to the growth of the overall economic activity and investment from the private sector.

The Lebanese government’s short- and long-term initiatives on structural reform include fighting corruption, fiscal governance and reforms, digital transformation of the government, modernization and restructuring of the public sector, public sector procurement, judicial reforms, oil and gas sector governance and capital market reforms. Based on the recommendations of the World Bank, the Lebanese government is implementing sectoral reforms in electricity, solid waste, water and telecommunications in order to have more productive, efficient and sustainable sectors, with the purpose of ensuring a better level of public service delivery.

Moreover, the government contracted McKinsey consultancy to provide assistance and advice in setting a strategic plan for the diversification and development of Lebanon’s productive sectors. All similar governmental procedures create an enabling environment for private sector investment.

The Lebanon-U.K. Business and Investment Forum is organized by the U.K. and Lebanon to enhance confidence-building in the private sector - the base of any good governance and social stability.

The forum is consistent with a wider Lebanese approach toward obtaining international support - and not necessarily in the form of grants, but also in the form of investments that constitute a modality that could solve many developmental problems while ensuring steady growth and the creation of job opportunities.

Hiba Huneini is manager of the youth and civic engagement program at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development. Email her at [email protected]

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 12, 2018, on page 3.

The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy
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