IDAL

20 YEARS OF FAIL­URE

Executive Magazine - - Front Page - Yasser Akkaoui Edi­tor-in-chief

The In­vest­ment Devel­op­ment Author­ity of Le­banon is in a unique po­si­tion. It has au­ton­omy to make many de­ci­sions on its own and is more or less im­mune from hav­ing its work dis­rupted by a po­lit­i­cal class that can­not make de­ci­sions. IDAL does not sit for years with its hands tied, await­ing a gov­ern­ment de­cree to move for­ward with its plans. Nor does IDAL have its strat­egy re­worked ev­ery time a new min­is­ter comes to power. It ought to be the most suc­cess­ful and prop­erly func­tion­ing state in­sti­tu­tion this poorly gov­erned coun­try has. That it is not is out­ra­geous.

In Oc­to­ber of last year, IDAL turned 20. We should be cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of steady job cre­ation and in­creas­ing for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment. This mag­a­zine should have an in­ves­tiga­tive re­port de­tail­ing years of IDAL’s di­rect con­tri­bu­tions to GDP growth by slash­ing through red tape to help in­vestors boost the econ­omy. In­stead, we have an ac­count of how po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence and in­com­pe­tent lead­er­ship have made IDAL an em­bar­rass­ment.

We need more jobs. We need more in­vest­ment. But at­tract­ing them re­quires a well thought out strat­egy, a strat­egy that nav­i­gates our weak­nesses and the threats to our econ­omy in or­der to draw on the ex­tra­or­di­nary hu­man cap­i­tal this coun­try has. Be­yond bas­kets of in­cen­tives, IDAL re­quires a bas­ket of skilled, hard­work­ing and in­cor­rupt­ible lead­ers to serve on its board of di­rec­tors.

In the cor­po­rate world, board mem­bers who don’t de­liver and CEOs who fail re­peat­edly ei­ther step down or get thrown out by an­gry stake­hold­ers. Look­ing at IDAL’s per­for­mance since 1994, one can­not help but con­clude its lead­er­ship is, and has been, in­com­pe­tent. It is hard to imag­ine that some­one lead­ing such an or­ga­ni­za­tion for over 10 years — as Na­bil Itani has — can have any pride in him­self or his work given how lit­tle he has done in that time.

There is no shame in ad­mit­ting you are not the right per­son for a job. But there is shame in col­lect­ing a pay­check you didn’t earn and squandering op­por­tu­ni­ties the coun­try so des­per­ately needs to ex­ploit. Itani and the board be­hind him are em­bar­rass­ing them­selves and this coun­try. It is be­yond time they all re­sign.

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