After the lunch hosted today by President Macron of France for the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, we heard them highlight the Cedre’s Conference Plan, which took place in 2018 to jump start the economy with 11 Billion Dollars of soft loans, as a solution to Lebanon’s crisis.
Hearing them speak, we should think that nothing has changed at all since that conference, and we should also ignore the fact that most of these pledges were made by Arab countries who are now reluctant to endorse another one color government in Lebanon.
And yet everything is different. Since 2018, we have had a revolution, a financial meltdown, a massive explosion that destroyed the Port for which the physical damage alone amounts to 9 billion dollars, as well as, a collapse of the global economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has impacted all donor countries.
How can these two men just rehash the same old expired plans which do not address the reality of the present situation? Firstly, we need to focus on an immediate strategy to recover the losses from the financial sector, then we need to have a long term economic vision for the country to begin its recovery, and I am not referring here to the flimsy and expensive Mackenzie proposal, which was also mentioned in the government’s policy paper, and which has become irrelevant under the present conditions.
The reality is that, the projects put forward in CEDRE are a regurgitation of shelved concepts by the CDR and are disconnected from Lebanon’s present social and economic needs. It is also a reflection of the old “contractor mentality” in the previous governments which was the feeder for the practices of clientelism, corruption and the funneling of commissions, which Lebanon needs to eliminate.
So far, we have not seen anything new in this government’s proposals and policy outline. There are no five and ten year plans to lift Lebanon out of its misery, to address the state of the dilapidation of the nation, the endemic waste management problem, the pollution of the sea with wastewater overflow, the lack of health standards, the collapse of the education sector, the corruption in the state, the political cartel’s stronghold on the economy, among the many other dire problems endangering the lives of Lebanese citizens.
These matters should all be tackled for a real recovery to take place, otherwise what we are hearing from the Presidents, Mikati and Macron, are just the same old soundbites, but at least they had a nice lunch together at the Elysée Palace while the Lebanese people still have no bread, no fuel and no electricity.