L’es­poir fait vivre

Executive Magazine - - EDITORIAL -

On March 27, be­fore ad­dress­ing an au­di­to­rium filled with our best schol­ars, aca­demics, re­searchers, jour­nal­ists, in­tel­lec­tu­als, and ex­perts who have ded­i­cated their lives for this na­tion, I asked if any of them was granted ac­cess to or had seen or even touched one page of the Cap­i­tal In­vest­ment Plan (CIP)—the an­swer was a unan­i­mous “NO.” The rest of the con­fer­ence, which was ti­tled “En­hanc­ing Do­mes­tic Ac­count­abil­ity in Le­banon in Light of CEDRE Con­fer­ence,” or­ga­nized by Is­sam Fares In­sti­tute and the Lebanese Cen­ter for Pol­icy Stud­ies, was a suc­ces­sion of in­spi­ra­tional but frus­trated pre­sen­ta­tions on what should be done to save Le­banon.

The CIP was eight months in the mak­ing and was en­dorsed by the cab­i­net on March 21. The CIP and a vi­sion doc­u­ment for sta­bi­liza­tion, growth, and em­ploy­ment that in­cluded ideas for re­form were posted on­line seven days be­fore CEDRE as Ex­ec­u­tive went to print, which did not al­low time for a full eval­u­a­tion. The McKin­sey re­port on Le­banon’s pro­duc­tive sec­tors did not make it on­line. The rushed and opaque man­ner in which these pil­lars have been pre­pared is alarm­ing.

We live for the day when the role of civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions is re­in­forced and their rights re­spected. We have a seat at the ta­ble be­cause we, the cit­i­zens—the own­ers— need to mon­i­tor the prac­tices of our self-en­ti­tled politi­cians who have ma­nip­u­lated our trust and mis­man­aged our re­sources for decades. It is not a priv­i­lege to have that seat; it is a right. When it is treated as a priv­i­lege, and ac­cepted as such, we shall be as cor­rupt as the es­tab­lish­ment it­self.

For 20 years, no one has called for the re­al­iza­tion of each one of the projects that are now in­cluded in the CIP as much as this mag­a­zine. No one called for the adop­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­forms as much as we did, and no one has been a wit­ness of our govern­ment’s dis­re­gard to these ap­peals as much as we have. So for­give us for our frus­tra­tion, but we are not see­ing, or get­ting as­sur­ances, that this call for re­forms is au­then­tic. And as long as it does not fall within the frame­work of in­clu­sive­ness and par­tic­i­pa­tion, cit­i­zens will find it dif­fi­cult to swal­low the le­git­i­macy of our govern­ment.

It’s un­for­tu­nate that we are only left with the hope that the World Bank, the IMF, the UN and its agen­cies, will help donor coun­tries learn from the past and go be­yond their po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tions to help in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize our govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to best prac­tices.

We re­main am­bi­tious, pos­i­tive, and naive. Let’s hope for the best. In­shal­lah.

Yasser Akkaoui Edi­tor-in-chief

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