Here we go … again

Illustration by: Ivan Debs
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We have a new government and even the most skeptical among us is relieved. Of the 30 ministers, a handful are promising, young, dedicated men and women who have honorable records. It is our hope that these new faces will be able to maintain their untarnished reputations and demonstrate their ability to deliver what is needed in their respective ministries. This will be a challenge, given that in previous governments, new fresh faces have been sucked in and spat out by veteran members, leaving them confused, frustrated, or worse, contaminated by the establishment bug.

What really worries us is the ability of this government to manage the socioeconomic and fiscal challenges that Lebanon is facing. These challenges require a state of mind that will first comprehend the severity of the situation and then be able to address it with the utmost maturity, and selflessness, which unfortunately, is not in our DNA. So let us hope that our political princes realize that their own personal interests are at stake too, and maybe if motivated to save themselves they will bring the rest of us along with them.

We have not read the brief given to McKinsey, and so are unable to judge its content and whether McKinsey has delivered on what it was asked for. As such, it is easy to blame McKinsey on their economic vision that is not, as they were keen to state upfront, an economic plan. And as an economic vision, the McKinsey slide show fails to ask what kind of country we want Lebanon to be. This comes as no surprise, reaffirming as it does our government’s hazy conception of sovereignty. National economic plans are rooted in sovereignty: We would have expected the economic plan’s core to be built around concepts like food sufficiency, energy independence, social development, and inclusiveness—as is, this plan fails to fit into any social contract.

If, and only if, the government reaches out to civil society, recognizes its role, and utilizes its resources will we know that our leaders fully understand the scale of the problem. It is time for inclusiveness. For the past few months, Executive has sat with capable, ambitious, educated, and talented individuals to discuss our economic roadmap. These people are imbedded in their communities and know what they need. Their voices deserve to be heard and empowered. Lebanon’s problems are not new, and solving them requires all stakeholders to come together in the national interest. For too long our establishment has been part of the problem not the solution, and if they are not capable of putting the national interest above their own then it is past time for them to stand aside.

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