WORSE THAN WEAPONS

Executive Magazine - - Editorial -

The war years in Le­banon were par­tic­u­larly ugly near the end. I was 16 years old when the bot­tom fell out from un­der the lira, and the cur­rency col­lapse changed ev­ery­thing. Peo­ple lost their jobs. Wealth van­ished. Des­per­a­tion reigned. We were used to be­ing ter­ror­ized by bombs, bul­lets and ever-ac­cu­rate mor­tar shells. Fi­nan­cial ter­ror­ism proved even worse. I re­mem­ber ads in the pa­per for re­cruit­ment agen­cies. They re­quired some­thing like $20 for their as­sis­tance in find­ing peo­ple jobs. The prom­ise, of course, was empty. There were no jobs, only crooks and dis­tressed and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who most prob­a­bly knew bet­ter than to fall for such a scam. Fear that your fam­ily will starve or be pushed onto the street, how­ever, does not in­spire the best de­ci­sions. Crim­i­nal­ity was ev­ery­where. Cer­tain un­scrupu­lous types were ap­prov­ing loans they knew would fail to get their hands on land or prop­erty at ob­scenely low prices. It was a moral­ity-free zone.

See­ing an ad­ver­tise­ment de­signed to dupe peo­ple who lack a so­cial safety net brought back some of my worst mem­o­ries. We’ve been liv­ing through an eco­nomic disas­ter the past few years, and all signs point to dis­tress. Even our drug trade is flour­ish­ing again. I fear for what we’re be­com­ing. I don’t want to live in a coun­try of out­laws, iso­lated from the global econ­omy. I want a coun­try where hon­est hard work and en­tre­pre­neur­ial risk tak­ing are re­spected and re­warded.

Ex­ec­u­tive has spent more than 16 years ad­vo­cat­ing for ways our govern­ment of­fi­cials can make Le­banon bet­ter for all. We must re­mem­ber, how­ever, that build­ing a pros­per­ous coun­try re­quires in­di­vid­ual ini­tia­tive and in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity. Our fo­cus in 2016 on busi­ness ethics in­cludes a se­ries of warn­ings we all must heed. We take a look at the many op­por­tu­ni­ties that ad­her­ence to in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices can pro­vide.

This month we re­port how Beirut should po­si­tion it­self as a hub for pri­vate bank­ing with an eth­i­cal in­vest­ment fo­cus. Money can be made hon­estly, and we mustn’t for­get that. We have been sail­ing back into the moral­ity-free zone. It’s time to re­verse course.

Yasser Akkaoui Ed­i­tor-in-chief

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