Nayla Tueni, 26, is currently the deputy general manager and member of the board at An-Nahar newspaper. She is also the daughter of former An-Nahar managing editor Gebran Tueni, who was assassinated in a car bombing in 2005. Ms. Tueni is an independent and running for the Greek Orthodox seat in the Beirut 1 electoral district.Note: Ms. Tueni preferred to reply to our questions by email and not to sit for a one-on-one interview with Executive.
E The United Nations estimates that 28.5 percent of Lebanon’s population lives below the poverty line and 300,000 people live in extreme poverty. What will you do to alleviate the poverty situation?
To alleviate poverty, you want to give the poor the tools to help themselves. It is not by throwing money at the problem that it will eventually go away. By raising awareness on the importance of education and how it is a weapon against poverty and facilitating access to it, we would be taking our first steps towards winning the war against poverty. Creating more job opportunities will be a step towards alleviating poverty. There should also be a fair distribution for development programs across the capital.
As a parliament representative of Ashrafieh, Saifi and Rmeil, I will focus my efforts on developing these regions.
E Lebanon’s electricity sector has been a drain on the budget for more than a decade. What will you do to decrease expenditure and improve efficiency? We know that among the possible options is privatization, but this has been stifled by politics and market conditions. How will you encourage competition and root out bad governance in the sector?
When talking about Électricité du Liban and the telecom industries, one word comes to mind: privatization. It is only by privatizing these two industries that we — as government, citizens and service providers — will be able to reap the benefits. These three players, by working together to institutionalize effective regulatory frameworks and practices — which will help increase investment and innovation — will lead to a higher contribution from the two sectors to the country’s overall economic and social development. Ultimately it is the end user who will benefit from the privatization of the telecom sector, since there will be an increased choice of service providers and services. This induces competition between operators, resulting in lower prices for the consumers, more advanced technologies and greater service variety.
E What initiatives will you take to decrease Lebanon’s risk factor with respect to investment and encourage Foreign Direct Investment?
The only way to address the risk factor issue is to have the parliament play its role in setting regulatory laws governing the investment climate. Moreover, committees need to follow up on the implementation of these laws in order to encourage Foreign Direct Investment and inspire faith in our economic system. As we know, lately there have been several proposed laws by the government that are aimed at stabilizing the investment climate; however, they are still pending in the parliament. The parliament should be encouraging the passing of these bills in order to attract foreign investments. By doing so, we will be promoting stability, and reinforcing investor’s confidence and trust.
E Recently the ILO reported that 22,000 students dropped out of schools in Lebanon which is indicative of a wider problem with regards to human development in Lebanon. What will you do to encourage human development in both the public and private sectors?
First off, there should be an investigation as to why 22,000 students dropped out of schools; we can not go about making assumptions on how to fix it if we don’t know the root of the problem. For example, if the majority is dropping out for financial reasons, then the problem should be addressed by encouraging scholarship programs and facilitating credit payments for the parents.
However, if the reason behind this rate is that the majority of students are dropping out because they are finding it more appealing to kick off their careers instead of pursuing their studies, then raising awareness on the importance and the benefits of education would be our main concern. After all we should be focusing on empowering the youth, and by educating them we will be giving them the most important tool they will need to build their futures.
E In an interview with NOW Lebanon you stated your opposition to a quota for women in the Lebanese Parliament because it “could be limiting.” Do you still stand by this statement?
I strongly stand by my position on [a] women’s quota in the parliament. The quota is limiting to women’s potential influence in the parliament. Women are the backbone of our society; they are equal to men and should be treated as such. They should be able to participate in shaping the society they live in through the parliament and they should be able to have their mark on the political scene. By imposing a quota for women in the parliament, first off there would be a discrimination against them on the basis of sexes. Moreover, there will not be as much diversification of opinions as there would be.
I am a firm believer in the free market economic system. As members of parliament, it is our duty to set regulations favorable to this system, which help maintain it a well-oiled machine. Moreover, the private sector should be encouraged and nurtured since it is a vital player in the economic sector.