Despite the headline on this month’s cover, Lebanon could actually be a country powered by natural gas — a fuel that is more efficient and environmentally friendly than the heavy fuel oil and diesel currently used to generate our electricity, and, most importantly, gas would save our country the billions of dollars per year now spent on subsiding the state-owned power company. Lebanon could also be a country with a functioning public transportation network, with interconnected bus and railway lines that speed passengers to and from work daily, easing commuting times and the traffic gridlock throttling our streets.
Development of these, and other basic types of infrastructure such as proper telecommunications services, would unleash benefits we can hardly fathom at this moment — from increased productivity, to an increased quality of life, to a generally healthier society. And its not like these ideas haven’t been thought of before; serious consideration of converting the nation to gas power first came up in the early 1990s.
The roadblock to progress, time and again, has been political intransigence, the sectarian fractionalization and the endemic systems of patronage and corruption that our political leaders use to enrich themselves, divide the population and control each of their little fiefdoms of influence. Even when a minister does put forward progressive policy, it is inevitably scrapped by his successor who insists on reworking the scheme to benefit his own interests, thus killing any long-term continuity. Changing even this, however, is not beyond the realm of the possible — the only reason inept leaders are in power is because we voted for them, remember?
To begin to change, however, we first have to have an idea of where we are going. To this end, Executive is launching the Lebanon 2030 initiative. Throughout 2013 we will be looking to the future, examining how the pillars of a properly functioning state would take shape in this country, and how, within the realistic time frame of the next decade and a half, we could build them here.
While some may wallow in their cynicism and say Lebanon will always be the same, it is precisely that defeatism that becomes a self-fulfilling reality. If there is to be any chance for positive change, we must set the goals of what we want this country to look like — so let’s move forward.