The devils must go

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

This year’s Arab Sum­mit was par­tic­u­larly painful to watch. The pompous grandios­ity of the con­gre­gated Arab lead­ers was noth­ing short of nau­se­at­ing. What do they have to show for it? Col­lec­tively, these lead­ers are at the helm of nearly 400 mil­lion Arabs. What are their KPIs? The World Bank es­ti­mates a col­lec­tive GDP of $2.56 tril­lion for the Arab League states. As­sum­ing one third of that is rev­enue de­rived from re­source ex­trac­tion and not hu­man pro­duc­tiv­ity, we are left with a col­lec­tive GDP for 22 states on par with the GDP of Italy’s 60 mil­lion peo­ple. Sixty mil­lion Ital­ians as pro­duc­tive as 400 mil­lion Arabs!? Our lead­ers must go.

If these num­bers don’t prove the case against Arab lead­ers, their own words cer­tainly in­dict them. Speech after speech, each head of del­e­ga­tion took his turn ad­dress­ing Arab causes and con­cerns, their cause célèbres. How­ever, not once did I hear a mere men­tion of ed­u­ca­tion, hu­man de­vel­op­ment, so­cial de­vel­op­ment or em­ploy­ment. Not once did I catch an al­lu­sion to the role of the pri­vate sec­tor in ad­vanc­ing Arab economies. These de­ci­sion-mak­ers have signed in­ter­na­tional trade agree­ments with coun­tries all over the world yet ig­nore their own neigh­bors.

What both­ers me most, of course, is the fate that con­tin­ues to plague Le­banon, my coun­try. As a young man, I would feel a tremen­dous sense of pride and ad­mi­ra­tion while ob­serv­ing our lead­ers at these sum­mits. Even dur­ing Le­banon’s dark­est days – when our lead­ers were war­lords drain­ing us to the last drop – Le­banon could still claim to have some sem­blance of a democ­racy, and we could still proudly boast about our high­qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and the raw tal­ent and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit of the work­force we were re­leas­ing to the world. How­ever, in the past 10 to 12 years, our so-called lead­ers have stripped us to the bare min­i­mum. They even tried to strip us of our dig­nity.

There is no doubt that our coun­try is in eco­nomic ruin for no rea­son other than dys­func­tional man­age­ment. Our politi­cians are so con­sumed with their per­sonal am­bi­tions and ma­te­ri­al­is­tic pur­suits that they are only able to see the state as a tool to ad­vance their own per­sonal and elec­toral in­ter­ests. The farce of the bud­get­ing process is a case in point – a scan­dal that has largely un­folded be­hind closed doors. Why are we propos­ing an in­crease of taxes that will fur­ther bleed a pop­u­lace al­ready drained by its lead­ers’ lack of eco­nomic pol­icy and vi­sion? Where is any at­tempt to build cap­i­tal mar­kets that would ac­tu­ally boost our dor­mant econ­omy in­stead of fur­ther bur­den­ing it?

Our in­ept de­ci­sion-mak­ers have no re­sponse to an in­creas­ingly dis­con­tented and livid pop­u­la­tion. These devils must go.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.