1 Natural resource management
Our reservoirs have nearly been pumped dry by lack of foresight while pollutants threaten to contaminate our drinking water. In order to properly manage our water resources we must measure our snow and rainfall, regulate water usage, and invest in sanitation infrastructure. Our potential hydrocarbon resources must be developed for the benefit of the Lebanese people. Commit to removing political interests from exploration license negotiations and future subcontracting deals and ensure appropriate environmental measures are in place to protect from spills and other damage. Our coastal waters are polluted by runoff, we’re choking on exhaust, and garbage is literally being thrown into our valleys and forests. We need to protect our environment, its beauty and natural wonders.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: While Rome burns (#181) / Heads in the sand (#182) / Politics and public health (#186) / Non evasive action (#183) / All at sea (#183)
2 Workers’ rights
Women are integral to our workforce and vital to the health of our economy. We must not relegate their status to that of a second class worker – gaps in compensation, benefits, and workplace responsibilities must be closed. Maternity leave must be expanded and not viewed as an impediment to career advancement – likewise paternity leave should also be a worker’s right. We must also abolish the Kafala system for foreign domestic workers. In the interim, we should apply principles of equal treatment: we must protect against exploitation and abuse by enforcing contracts that limit working hours and grant time off. We must also ensure access to the same social safety nets of health and education to all legal residents of Lebanon.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Women in the workforce (#188) / Domestic workers: ignored but active union (#190)
Lebanon now hosts over 1.2 million refugees, many seeking asylum from neighboring Syria. The population increase has strained Lebanon’s resources so that basic needs are not being met. We need help from the international community to provide asylum seekers their basic human rights – the rights to shelter, education, health, and work. Rather than abhor their presence, we must contribute to addressing their needs to reassure donors so they continue to support the most vulnerable populations and invest in our infrastructure.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Syrian refugees: lower the drawbridge (#177) / The root of good (#184) / The blame game (#189)
4 Promoting Lebanon
Tourism is touted as one of the main pillars of the Lebanese economy, and indeed it has real potential for growth. Despite this, we’re not playing to our strengths. We must promote Lebanon’s geographic indicators and our tourism potential. Our products, such as wine, must be supported in the export market. Diversify tourism to promote rural and cultural landmarks with a clear strategy to promote Lebanon abroad.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Tourism Starts at Home (#192) / Fix it and They Will Come (#178)
5 Utilities and public services
Our failing public services limit our economic productivity, harming in turn our environment and our health. We must commit to long term plans that provide us with 24/7 electricity, fast internet, and sustainable waste management. Start by appointing the electricity regulation authority to begin building power plants and increase generation capacity. We already have a plan from 2010 that calls for a capacity increase, a reform of the electrical grid, and an emphasis on renewable energy. Let’s continue implementing this plan. We need to further broadband internet penetration in order to drive growth and remain economically competitive. Activate Lebanon’s already installed fiber optic backbone, bridge connections from the backbone to homes and businesses, license more capacity to our internet service providers, and lower the costs of subscription. Abdul Monheim Yousef must be removed from at least one of his positions – such a blatant conflict of interest must end. We must also implement sustainable solutions to treat our solid waste. Invest in waste management capabilities nationwide to sort, landfill, incinerate or compost our trash. We must also teach ourselves to reduce our waste at the household level, recycle more and stop littering.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Electricity: crumbling behind the country (#147) / Renewable energy (#194) / Light a fire (#190) / Flipping the switch (#189) / Master muddler (#189) / Waste: Tsu–Naameh (#187) / Knee deep in trash, political and literal (#193) / Criminal negligence (#194)
We need to revitalize our national infrastructure to encourage economic development. We lack a national wastewater collection network and have treatment plants connected to nothing. This must be fixed once and for all. We can no longer dump wastewater untreated into the sea or onto the land, where it can contaminate our groundwater. Our roads are filled with potholes and we lack a real public transportation system. We must maintain the integrity of our roads, highways, bridges, and tunnels and build new thoroughfares to support economic development in even the most remote locations of Lebanon. We need to expand our limited bus system and invest in mass transit options that improve connections between our cities. Our points of entry are public assets that are vital to economic health. We need a strategy to integrate our seaports into international value chains, vis-a-vis each other, with organizational structures that prioritize the national economy.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Water: quality concerns (#183) / Public private partnership (#149) / The road to more traffic (#184) / A port policy for all (#192)
7 Private sector
The private sector is the backbone of Lebanon’s economy. For the nation to flourish, social and economic justice must increase and never be compromised. At the same time, economic justice will be condemned to subsistence living if economic productivity is ignored or impeded. Our banking sector is the jewel in the economic crown but that doesn’t mean it cannot be improved. Its taxation must be just. Banks’ conduct in financing the deficit and helping small businesses and citizens through lending has need for greater transparency and growth. Our industry has underused economic potentials that deserve to be nourished and equipped with smart investment support. Our businesses need better corporate laws to operate under and at the same time have to practice corporate governance that will attract investors. Our entrepreneurs deserve a boost in attention and our ecosystems for entrepreneurship and creative industries have much room for development.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Taxes: Don’t kill our banks (#179) / Retail banking gains ground (#176) / Taming the central bank (#192) / Responsible to govern (#194) / Entrepreneurship: In praise of chaos (#184)
8 Public policy
Our treasury is in complete disarray and our public debt has spiraled. Our regulators lack authority and we base our policies, for which there is no transparency, on guesses rather than quantifiable fact. We have no idea how our government really spends our money. We need to pass a budget to facilitate long term planning and to hold government expenditures to account. Empower regulators to oversee their assigned industry or market segment. These bodies need to be given teeth in their legal mandates, boards of directors need to be appointed while governing committees whose terms have expired need to be replaced. We need to build transparency into our public institutions by passing anti-corruption legislation. We need an access to information law and a law to protect whistleblowers. We must have an E-Government portal that centrally allows users to track legislation at ministries, the parliament, and the council of ministers from draft status through publication in the national gazette. Pretending our population is the same as it was in 1932 is ridiculous. Public policy and the private sector need quantifiable data to form the basis of decisions. Empower the Central Administration of Statistics and ministries with the tools and budgets needed to collect and disseminate statistics.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Billions beyond budget (online only) / The incremental approach (#185) / Laying a foundation (#182) / Open the doors of parliament (#178) / A matter of perspective (#184)
The legal framework governing our real estate sector is full of contradictions. Land wealth is concentrated into the hands of a few, leaving many residents to depend on outdated rental rules that discourage landowners from reinvesting in their buildings. We need to smartly plan our cities. We have far too many buildings and development projects that no one is buying because the average person cannot afford them. Real estate permits should be directly linked to proven demand. If a project won’t sell, it should not be built. We must provide public spaces for our children to play in and we must protect our ruins and cultural sites from development. Affordable public housing must be a priority. The government has to allocate money for the public housing fund it created with the new rent law. On top of that, it should create a scheme to incentivize the building of low-cost housing. Forcing developers to build two affordable apartments for every one elite apartment would be a good start.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Throw open the doors (#189) / Public parks, private payment (#176) / The dangers of stimulus (#191)
10 Public health
Our population is aging while risk of lifestyle diseases remains significant. We must maintain and improve quality – and advance universal provision of modern treatment – in our clinics and hospitals through reforming, financing and encouraging investment in our healthcare system. Health and quality standards in our food and consumable products must be maintained and improved. We must have institutional reform to create a serious, frequent and surprise inspection regime.
For more in-depth analysis, see EXECUTIVE articles: Healthcare: a prescription of order (#189) / Hungry for change (#189)