RE­BUILD IT FROM SCRATCH

Executive Magazine - - Editorial - Yasser Akkaoui Editor-in-chief

The so­cial con­tract be­tween the state and the peo­ple is bro­ken. It had been crum­bling for a long time. We’re re­minded of the state’s fail­ures ev­ery month when we pay two elec­tric­ity bills and ev­ery sum­mer when we pay two wa­ter bills. For decades we’ve made con­ces­sion af­ter con­ces­sion, the worst be­ing ac­cep­tance of the Taif Ac­cord. Beaten down by years of death and de­struc­tion, we were so fed up we ac­tu­ally par­doned our war­lords and al­lowed them to be­come princes in a king­dom of cor­rup­tion. The sys­tem these par­doned crim­i­nals over­see will take years to rid of its filth – much like the open garbage dumps our law­break­ers are di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for.

In spite of the many bar­ri­ers to our com­pet­i­tive­ness, Le­banon still has a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing re­silient. A phoenix ris­ing from the ashes. This is true only be­cause of our en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit and the de­ter­mi­na­tion of pri­vate en­ter­prise. Our so­cial safety net is wo­ven of re­mit­tances from our suc­cess­ful sons and daugh­ters abroad. It was not strate­gi­cally de­signed by pol­icy mak­ers. For decades now the pri­vate sec­tor has held this coun­try to­gether by pro­vid­ing peo­ple liveli­hoods and – all too of­ten – ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices. With the re­gion in tur­moil and re­gard­less of our cen­tral bank’s best ef­forts our econ­omy is crash­ing. We’ve fi­nally reached a break­ing point. This coun­try is be­com­ing un­liv­able. We need change, and it must be cen­tered on the rule of law.

As we note in a spe­cial re­port this month, the threat of po­ten­tial oil and gas rev­enues be­ing stolen or mis­man­aged is real and only iron­clad leg­is­la­tion can pro­tect them. Build­ing this in­dus­try from scratch with the right laws in place will be an in­struc­tive ex­er­cise. We need to re­build the en­tire Le­banese sys­tem to make sure cit­i­zens’ rights are pro­tected. A prop­erly func­tion­ing le­gal sys­tem must be this coun­try’s back­bone. With­out the con­fi­dence that rights, prop­erty and in­vest­ment are pro­tected, there is no mov­ing for­ward.

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