FRI 16 - 11 - 2018
Date: Jul 6, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Giving false hope
Hanna Anbar| The Daily Star

A twinge of optimism was palpable earlier this week when the Lebanese government received the McKinsey report outlining a five-year plan to develop and guide the economy to ensure a better Lebanon in coming years.

And as always, and not unexpectedly, the bubble burst.

A plethora of such plans have made the rounds in past decades. In fact, state institutions are inundated with such blueprints that date back to the ’60s and would have rendered Lebanon the equal of the Asian tigers club if only 50 percent of them had been followed through. But devising such plans is like building castles in the sky, in light of the glaring hurdle of corruption.

Consider the recent shocking revelation that the salaries of 2,000 deceased public employees are still being collected years after their passing. That discovery alone would be enough to cast doubt on the government’s seriousness in ending graft. But it gets worse because another 30,000 are on the payrolls of various ministries for fictitious jobs.

And The Daily Star has learned these are just the tip of the iceberg, bonuses from certain politicians for services rendered.

The Lebanese people are skeptical because the examples are endless, among them some schools where there are more teachers than students who of course get all the benefits, raises and indemnities without actually working, while others are recruited and paid for imaginary jobs, though in many cases they don’t even live in this country.

The irony is that this discovery was made by one of the top Christian clerics at a time when our newly appointed corruption minister has been pontificating about every subject except the one entrusted to him.

We have heard for years there would be accountability for such behavior, but so far no one has been prosecuted, there has been no accountability and this bazaar is still alive and kicking.

Corruption is an epidemic that chips at the budget, fuels the deficit and foils progress in every field, and it’s futile to promise the Lebanese a better future if this problem is not addressed before making plans for increased electricity supplies or cleaner water.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 06, 2018, on page 1.

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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