Combating the corruption in Lebanon — Is there any hope ?

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Transparency International Index — Lebanon is 143rd/ 180 Least Corrupt country.

Transparency International a global NGO rates countries after doing quantitative survey among the citizens.In 2017 it rated Lebanon 143rd least corrupt out of 180 countries. So Lebanon now has the dubious distinction of having only 32 countries which are more corrupt than us. [Ref]

Elections 2018

We witnessed the worse elections ever. They have expended dirty money to gain votes and allegiance. The dismal voter turnout makes it obvious that people had given up long before the elections. The voter turnout this time was less than the 2009 elections.

According to unofficial estimates, this secured a nation-wide Shi’a voter turnout of 67% with the Hezbollah-Amal list winning 92% of the vote in their Southern strongholds. While the turnout among Lebanon’s Christians was smaller at 40%, the county’s Sunni population proved rather apathetic at a turnout of just 27%. [Source]

Though the Lebanese people lost hope, the international community has its keen eye on Lebanon because of Lebanon geo-political status.International donors at the Paris CEDRE conference extended $11 bn in low- interest loans.

How would anything change when the parliamentary election of 2018 hasn’t bought any qualitative change in the parties representation?

Rampart Corruption has affected all areas of Public Life

Waste Disposal

The garbage crisis on 2015 surfaced again in 2018. In January 2018 piles of garbage surfaced along the beaches on Beirut.

Electricity Shortage

The Lebanese power sector is one of the most corrupt. Last year the government spent 1.3 bn subsidising the power sector.

Water Pollution

Inadequate waste disposal system pollutes our water and All efforts are half hearted and ineffective.

Public Debt

Our Public Debt stands at 150% at the end of 2017 and is the third highest in the world after Greece and Japan. Foreign aid ( CEDRE conference) contributes to the public debt and is not the best way to boost the economy.

In August 2017, the rating agency Moody’s downgraded Lebanon Profile from B2 to B3. The IMF has said that Lebanon public debt is unsustainable and could hit 180% by 2023. [Read more]

Slow Economic Growth

Investors confidence is now at an all-time low. Annual growth rate which stood at 8% in 2010 has plunged to 1% -2 % since 2011. [Read more]

Recent Political tension over the resignation of the Prime Minister drove away the GCC tourist and the investors.

Inadequate Infrastructure

The country has crippling infrastructure and for the economy to change gears we need to ramp up the existing projects and start new projects. I am a big believer in PPP “Public Private Partnership” and the private sector with their expertise can help us accomplish the project in time. [Read my blog post on “Public Private Partnership” in Lebanon]

Note –

Out of the Paris conference Aid of $11 bn. Around 30 percent of the investments will be earmarked for the transportation sector while water and sewage projects will get another 30 percent. Nearly 20 percent will be allocated to the electricity sector with the remaining 20 percent to be invested in other infrastructure and development projects. [Read more]

Unemployment

Lebanese youth are concerned only in finding a job in GCC than in our country. The inequality in Lebanon is striking high and the EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) need to be empowered with appropriate skills.

There are also about 1.5 million Syrian refugees and 0.45 million Palestine refugees to take care off. Disgruntled youth can join extremist moments to vent out their resentment. The youth wants social and economic opportunities and a political system that treats them fairly.

Lebanese People — Strengths & Weaknesses.

Lebanese people are bad at making long-term plans. There is one crisis or another. The Palestinian refugee crises led to the 15 year civil war, then the Syrian intervention and Cedar revolution. Constant geopolitical tension between Iran/Israel, Iran/Saudi Arabia is also lends a high degree of uncertainty. Syrian war was the last straw to break the camels back.

Our very weaknesses are also our strengths. The resilience of Lebanese people is incredible. Our diaspora (25% of the voting population) loves the country. The banking sector is one of the back bone of the economy, and despite so much sectarianism, we have maintained peace.

Political Parties

The constitution of Lebanon recognises 17 sects. We are the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. Our political parties are based on sectarian lines. After the Cedar revolution, The pro western majority of 8th march coalition and the 14th March opposition led coalition have idealogical agendas. [Read more]

Solutions to combat corruption.

Developing Strong Ethics

Integrity, Transparency and willingness to fight against corruption has to become a fundamental part of our culture.

Technology to fight corruption

Societies are complex. Complex societies cannot afford to have centralised decision making. For society to function properly we need local level empowerment. Decentralisation is the key to local level empowerment.

Spain is using Blockchain and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to combat corruption. [Read more]

The idea is to predict beforehand when the corruption is about to take place. Blockchain can bring transparency to entire system and make the political elite accountable when they are in power. In case of Lebanon, they are in Power forever.

Anti-Corruption Laws

If every politician knows he will face serious consequences for corruption, it would serve as a strong deterrent. We need systems in place so we get hold of the corrupt and punish them.

Improving administration and Management

Lebanon’s bankruptcy is not far off if we do not resolve the rampant corruption. We need to work on improving our fiscal administration efficiency by putting in the best people to manage it.

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About the author

Financial advisor to UHNWI, private entities, family offices, and companies. Certified Anti-Corruption Manager from The American Anti-Corruption Institute

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