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

The mag­a­zine pro­poses a few res­o­lu­tions for 2016. And we’re start­ing the year by prac­tic­ing them. First, we call on the best and bright­est Le­banese minds to seize the po­ten­tially lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties that the Paris Agree­ment on cli­mate change will af­ford. This is why we’ve put cli­mate change on our cover. Our se­cond, and most im­por­tant, res­o­lu­tion is that 2016 will be our year of busi­ness ethics. There’s no bet­ter place to start than with the worst disas­ter this coun­try has seen in re­cent mem­ory: the (mis)han­dling of waste man­age­ment. We take an in-depth look at a lo­cal com­pany given far more op­por­tu­nity than in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice sug­gests it should have had. We’re set­ting the stage for a year in which we will take a very hard look at busi­ness ethics in this law-ig­nor­ing coun­try.

Mil­ton Fried­man wrote that a com­pany’s top brass — be they a board of di­rec­tors or a small num­ber of ex­ec­u­tives — has only one ob­jec­tive: make more profit year-on-year for the ben­e­fit of the com­pany’s most im­por­tant stake­holder, its share­hold­ers. Of course, the com­pany must obey the law, con­duct busi­ness in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner and treat its em­ploy­ees re­spect­fully and well. As we pub­lish our months-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Averda, par­ent com­pany of waste man­agers Suk­leen and Sukomi, what we’ve found is plenty of govern­ment mal­prac­tice. Yet for ev­ery ru­mor we chased, we could not sub­stan­ti­ate il­le­gal be­hav­ior on the com­pany’s part. Even the no­tion that the com­pany only re­ceived con­tracts be­cause of its founder’s re­li­gion or al­leged ties to the late Rafik Hariri is un­der­mined by the fact that each time Suk­leen or Sukomi were given a no-bid con­tract, the en­tire cab­i­net ap­proved. The con­spir­acy to di­vide the pie is one all of our politi­cians are in on.

Our sys­tem is so bro­ken and the laws and reg­u­la­tions we have on the books are so poorly en­forced that it looks per­fectly le­gal for a com­pany to be given not only a mo­nop­oly on waste man­age­ment, but years and years of tax­payer-fi­nanced work with­out hav­ing bid on a con­tract in more than 20 years. In fact, the Shura Coun­cil in 2001 gave Averda’s con­tract­ing in Le­banon a le­gal seal of ap­proval. It’s be­wil­der­ing. No-bid con­tracts might be le­gal in Le­banon, but they are nei­ther re­flec­tive of in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice nor of the Le­banon we want to see.

The sum­mer of 2015 saw protests we hoped would achieve more. We pub­lished a man­i­festo to help in­form this coun­try’s cit­i­zens be­cause we’ve spent nearly 20 years point­ing out what’s wrong in Le­banon and what needs to be done to right it. In 2016, you can ex­pect us to name and shame both cor­po­rates and govern­ment of­fi­cials. And we won’t be us­ing Le­banese stan­dards. Like the man­i­festo, our cov­er­age this year is meant to help ac­tivists and pres­sure groups know who is do­ing wrong and how and what can be done bet­ter. We want an in­clu­sive eco­nomic sys­tem, and the most ef­fec­tive way to get there is by pro­mot­ing best in class cor­po­rate be­hav­ior. We’re on a mis­sion, so keep read­ing.

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