Wilson Center’s Middle East Program to Form Strategic Partnership with Safadi Foundation USA

 

 

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Ryan McKenna
Phone: (202) 691-4217
ryan.mckenna@wilsoncenter.org

 February 23, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Safadi Foundation USA announce a new initiative on Lebanon. Part of this partnership includes the launch of the Lebanon Ideas Forum—an assemblage of scholars, journalists, policymakers, and diplomats whose aim it will be to discuss the issues concerning Lebanon, its wider region, and relations with the United States and Europe.

“The decision to jointly reconstitute what used to be the Lebanon Working Group, a project which had much success in its earlier formats at other institutions is an opportunity to address the changing dynamics in the region. Specifically, how they impact Lebanon,” said Henri Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center.

“It is our hope that the Lebanon Ideas Forum will bring a diverse network of people together and constructively contributes to inform policies regarding Lebanon,” said Lara Alameh, President of Safadi Foundation USA.

The Middle East Program at the Wilson Center looks forward to enhancing its publications and events on Lebanon and incorporating issues that bear relevance to Lebanon in its own publications, such as the MENA Women News BriefViewpoints, and Occasional Paper Series.

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Wilson Center was chartered by Congress as the nation’s living memorial to President Woodrow Wilson. Through the work of its staff and fellows, it connects deep scholarship to urgent policy questions.
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Safadi Foundation USA Congratulates Board Member Habib Haddad

Safadi Foundation USA
Congratulates Board Member Habib Haddad as a Top Arab Innovator
Beirut, Lebanon (September 21, 2012) – Safadi Foundation USA congratulates Board Member Habib Haddad for being announced as one of the top Arab Innovators of 2012 by TR 35 Pan Arab at a dinner organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region and MIT’s Technology Review in Beirut earlier this month.  This year marks the first time the TR 35 selected participants from the Arab region.  Three of the five selected Arab innovators come from Lebanon.  Hind Hobeika, a swimmer since early childhood invented the Butterfleye, a heart rate monitor specifically designed for swimmers that reads the heart rate from the temporal artery and then produces a visual feedback in the lens.  Elie Khoury created Woopra, a website analytics that offers over 100,000 of its users the ability to increase their knowledge about visitor data in real time.  Board Member Haddad is the founder of Yamli.com, an Arabic transliteration and search engine that licensed its technology to Yahoo.  Haddad has been instrumental in engaging youth throughout the Arab region through non-profits that he founded including YallaStartup, INLET and ReliefLebanon.  “These entrepreneurs have made valuable contributions to Lebanon and the world through innovation and technology and we wish them continued success during this transformational time in the region” said Lara Alameh, Executive Director of Safadi Foundation USA.
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Lebanon: Economic Highlights

SAFADI FOUNDATION USA
Economic Highlights from Lebanon
September 2012

Introduction

In an effort to promote information on governance priorities in Lebanon, the Safadi Foundation USA has compiled the following summary on current economic challenges and reforms in Lebanon based on official sources provided by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and meetings with leading economists and bankers in the country. This document attempts to highlight some of the major activities taking place right now, and in no way does it seek to detail Lebanon’s economic and financial intricacies.  In addition, background materials on Lebanon and the economic situation are attached for those that would like to take a more in depth look.

Summary

Lebanon is mainly a service-based economy with the real estate, trade and tourism sectors as its main drivers.  In addition, the financial sector comprising banking and insurance is an integral part of Lebanon’s economic resilience and stability.  Lebanon’s banking system is large in comparison to the size of its economy (deposits to GDP ratio hovers around 300%).  It constitutes the backbone of the economy and was shielded from the global financial crisis due to its conservative policies.  Hence, it was able to continue increasing credit to the private sector despite a declining trend in this area internationally and despite regional instability.  Overall, banking loans to the private sector have increased by 12% in the first half of 2012 and subsidized loans from the MoF have also increased by more than 30% in 2011.

Although progress is being made with a growth rate of 3%, Lebanon’s economy continues to face significant pressure.  The global financial crisis as well as revolutions, transitions and continuing protests in the Arab region have been additional sources of stress on Lebanon’s economic potential.  Furthermore, domestic tensions as a result of the crisis in Syria are also a major strain on Lebanon’s economic stability.  Despite having withstood these pressures thus far with a positive growth rate, Lebanon continues to find itself in fragile and uncertain territory that makes maintaining macroeconomic stability challenging for any country in this environment.  In light of these challenges, a core-team of dedicated public servants continue to work on implementing domestic policies that seek to enhance the delivery of public services to Lebanese citizens and create an environment that is conducive to growth.

Current Economic Highlights

Some initiatives underway in Lebanon’s public sector that aim to reduce fiscal vulnerabilities, improve transparency and accountability, and promote economic growth and financial stability are:

Reducing Fiscal Vulnerabilities

The MoF is making every effort to maintain financial stability and maintain government debt on a declining trend.  The debt to GDP ratio has declined from its peak of around 180% of GDP in 2006 to reach around 135% by the end of 2011.  This has been accompanied by a change of debt composition from an equal split of 50% between foreign and domestic debt to a composition more skewed towards domestic debt by the end of 2011 (61% domestic debt).
The fiscal deficit has declined to 6% of GDP by the end of 2011 compared to 11.7% five years earlier.  At the same time, the primary surplus to GDP ratio also reached an all time high of 3.4% in 2011, improving from 0.9% in 2007.
The activation of the Public Debt Directorate within the MoF with the assistance of EFMIS (Emergency Fiscal Management Reform Implementation Program with the European Union) will build the capacity of the Ministry to manage the public debt and positively contribute to the macro policy framework.  The office has set out a five-year strategy to analyze and manage the public debt and reduce risks.  A sound debt policy will reduce Lebanon’s economic vulnerabilities from internal and external shocks.  In addition, by establishing the right infrastructure within the ministry an exit strategy for UNDP is underway and will improve overall sustainability.

Improving Transparency and Accountability

Lebanon has not had a reliable accounting system since the end of the civil war in 1990, and has lacked audited accounts with accurate figures.  The MoF is in the process of producing and auditing all government financial accounts from 1993 to this date.
One of Lebanon’s primary challenges is the delivery of services to citizens.  The continued restructuring of the tax administration by the MoF towards a function-based structure will modernize the tax system and promote reliable services to citizens. This effort has been underway in previous governments and is being pursued and further developed under the current one.
Lebanon’s national priorities need to be better reflected in the national budget process.  The Macro Fiscal Unit within the MoF is undertaking important reforms that will link the vision of the government with what is presented in the budget through the adoption of the IMF Government Finance Statistics (GFS) 2001 classification system.  This is an internationally recognized budget classification system that was adopted by the current MoF.  This shift will enable the organization of data to better meet reporting requirements and provide a more detailed analytic understanding behind the numbers helping to bridge the gap between the budget and national priorities.
Each Ministry within the Government of Lebanon is responsible for producing and submitting a budget.  Given the lack of cohesive guidelines for ministries to follow, it has not always been a transparent and/or efficient process.  Efficiency in the budget-making process is now being boosted on an operational level with the introduction of a manual to assist ministries in the budget preparation process.  Additionally, all budgets are now expected to be posted online in the third quarter of 2012.
Corruption and inefficiencies in government institutions are a common complaint by citizens.  One way the MoF is seeking to address this deeply rooted problem and improve the transparency and accountability in citizen-government relations is through E-Government.  The MoF launched in August 2012 its first on-line e-government service which allows citizens to log onto its website and check their outstanding payments that are due in relation to built-property tax.  This initiative is a first step towards a more robust comprehensive reform plan based on the provision of online service to citizens.  As of September 1, 2012, taxpayers were also granted the right to register with the MoF and secure their online user names and passwords allowing them to check other items of outstanding taxation due, which include VAT, income tax and built-property tax.  In a follow-up step, which is expected to be launched by first quarter of 2013, citizens may pay taxes or other forms of fees through e-payment gateways through their banks or through online payments using credit cards.  Beginning in 2013, citizens will also be able to submit their VAT declarations on-line.  The same initiative may be translated to other Government bodies including Customs and other line Ministries that provide direct services to citizens.

Promoting Economic Growth and Financial Stability

Lebanon’s entrepreneurial spirit is strong.  In fact, three of the five selected Arab Innovators selected by MIT’s Technology Review “TR 35” came from Lebanon.  However, despite this strong determination and creativity by young Lebanese there is little financial support by way of equity funding.  The MoF is addressing this challenge and is in the final phases of negotiating a $30,000,000 loan from the World Bank, which is in the final negotiation phase.  The loan aims to establish and finance a funding facility (Innovation in SMEs – iSMEs fund) to stimulate innovation by entrepreneurs and increase the availability of equity investments for young, growing firms. This type of public involvement in equity funds and grants for businesses is a tested model used by many governments as a means of supporting a funding gap in the market.  In addition, this will generate a more robust risk-taking culture, stimulate entrepreneurship, and, over time, enhance the potential for additional private sector jobs.
Despite the unstable regional environment, the MoF has succeeded, since August 2011, in completing in the market new issues and exchanges of Eurobonds amounting to more than $5 billion.  The issues have all been many times oversubscribed, including by international investors.  The maturities of the new Eurobonds ranged between 5 and 15 years, with coupon rates varying between 5.0% and 6.6%, which are significantly lower than borrowing rates by many European countries.
In August of 2011 the GoL established a legal and regulatory framework through the legislation of Law No. 161 on Financial Markets.  The creation of an autonomous Capital Market Authority will boost economic growth and contribute to financial stability by organizing financial markets in a more transparent manner that will ultimately reduce risks and promote domestic and foreign investments.

Recommendations

Safadi Foundation USA strongly supports FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations report language that “urges the Department of State to focus assistance for Lebanon on efforts that promote transparency, strengthen financial management, and improve efficiency of government institutions.”  In addition, Safadi Foundation USA recommends the following guidelines for helping to improve Lebanon’s fiscal environment.  These measures will help restore and strengthen citizens’ confidence in state institutions and will enable the Government of Lebanon (GoL) to be more efficient in the delivery of public services.

Donors are encouraged to support the GoL to:

Legislate the passage of a budget that reflects the national priorities of the country and for a full implementation of the budget law;
Urge the State to recover all illegal occupied public properties;
Enforce the protection of individual property and rule of law by forcing illegal occupants of private properties to dismantle their built properties, thus protecting individual property and imposing the rule of Law;
Move forward on an Access to Information legislation that will open the space for a more transparent and democratic society.  For more on this issue please visit http://www.transparency-lebanon.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23&Itemid=122&lang=en; and
Embrace the concept of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and legislate a PPP law.  PPPs are a great way for the public sector in Lebanon to improve infrastructure that is estimated to cost around $20 billion.  By paving the way for the private sector to participate, Lebanon can avoid huge economic burdens and ensure that the best quality and competitive services will be delivered to the people since it will be the private sector that carries the cost of the risks.

Donors should continue to support a stable Lebanon by:

Supporting Lebanon’s ability to maintain internal security and working to ensure a peaceful regional environment.  All of Lebanon’s industries depend on this stability to thrive.  Instability caused by recent regional turmoil has led to a significant drop in Lebanon’s tourism sector;
Directing assistance in the area of democracy and governance to both civil society and government institutions; and
Assisting the GoL to make sure proper mechanisms are in place for the proper handling and oversight of any revenues from natural gas reserves off the coast of Lebanon.  Lebanon’s energy sector, specifically electricity is rife with corruption and is one of the largest sources of frustration by citizens.  Every precaution should be taken not to duplicate these same inefficiencies.



Additional Background Info

Official Documents:

Lebanon Country Profile Report 2011 – MoF
http://www.finance.gov.lb/en-US/finance/ReportsPublications/DocumentsAndReportsIssuedByMOF/Documents/Sovereign%20and%20Invensment%20Reports/Country%20Profile/Lebanon%20Country%20Profile%202011.pdf

Public Finance Annual Review
http://www.finance.gov.lb/en-US/finance/ReportsPublications/DocumentsAndReportsIssuedByMOF/Documents/Public%20Finance%20Reports/Annual/YR_2011.pdf

Articles:

“Oil and Gas: Cure or Curse? The Conundrum of Lebanon’s Hypothetical Hydrocarbons,” Zac Brophy, in The Executive, February 6, 2012.
http://www.executive-magazine.com/getarticle.php?article=15118

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Event Wrap-Up: Panel Discussion on Arab Countries in Transition

Event Wrap-Up: Panel Discussion on Arab Countries in Transition
Click here to watch video.

On Monday, April 9, 2012 Stimson, George C. Marshall Foundation and Safadi Foundation USA hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Arab Countries in Transition: An Update on International Support One Year after the Deauville Partnership.”  The panel was moderated by Mona Yacoubian, Director, Pathways to Progress: Peace, Prosperity, and Change in the Middle East Project at Stimson.  Panelists included: Masood Ahmed, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund; Inger Andersen, Vice-President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank; and Dr. Peter Howard, Coordinator for the Deauville Partnership, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, US Department of State.

In their prepared remarks, the panelists assessed progress made in supporting Arab transitions by the United States and international financial institutions since the launch of the Deauville Partnership at last year’s G8 summit. They also addressed future challenges. The common theme expressed by all the panelists was that the Deauville Partnership presents a unique opportunity to bring all invested stakeholders together, creating a new framework that will strengthen coordination efforts among them.

Masood Ahmed noted the ongoing challenges Arab countries face and emphasized the need to address social and structural issues that limit people’s access to opportunities in the region.  He specifically highlighted unemployment issues that initially drove the revolutions. He further stated that while the Deauville Partnership has been useful as a platform for bringing key actors together, the next step is to go from a framework to country-specific deliverables.

Inger Andersen highlighted the “democratization of development,” elevating demands for enhanced governance as critical for successful transitions. Key elements include increased transparency and accountability. Andersen also emphasized the significance of participation in the Deauville Partnership by non-traditional partners such as the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council nations and various regional banks, noting that their presence enhances the Partnership’s representative nature.  She underscored the importance of their involvement as an important impetus for encouraging regional economic integration. Andersen also noted the need for developing a strong domestic business environment by providing better access to financing, facilitating small and medium enterprises, and improving education so as to nurture a skilled labor force.

Dr. Peter Howard discussed how the marshaling of international support has changed the United States’ approach to the region, noting ways the United States government is looking to economically support successful transitions. He provided a brief review of the three “pillars” for undertaking Deauville Partnership activities: economic, governance, and trade, noting progress made to date under each pillar.

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SSIPI Conference Awards Scholars

SAFADI-STANFORD INITATIVE FOR POLICY INNOVATION (SSIPI) PRESENTS
AWARDS TO SAFADI SCHOLARS

CONFERENCE FEATURES KEYNOTE REMARKS BY CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

Washington, DC, December 13, 2011 – As part of an ongoing effort to improve governance in Lebanon and the Arab world, The Safadi Foundation USA (SFUSA), the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD) at Stanford University and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) gathered leading international development officials and emerging Arab governance reform scholars for a conference entitled, “In the Middle of the Storm: Development and Governance in the Arab World,” on Tuesday December 6, 2011 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.”

His Excellency Mohammad Safadi, Minister of Finance from the Republic of Lebanon awarded the title of Safadi Scholar of the Year to Katarina Uherova Hasbani, an energy policy expert.  Miriam Allam, an Economist for the Middle East North Africa Governance Program at the Regulatory Policy Division, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was awarded the title of first runner up.  Both scholars were selected by an independent reviewing committee in response to an open call for papers launched earlier in the year by SSIPI.

The conference featured two-panels on economic development and reform in the Arab world with remarks by senior U.S. Government administration representatives, including Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, Robert D. Hormats; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Tamara Wittes; and USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Mara Rudman.  In addition, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund delivered a luncheon keynote address.  She remarked, “Amidst a darkening economic outlook and waning confidence, the Arab Spring still shines as a bright light and a beacon of hope, a symbol of what can be accomplished.”

“The direction of the Arab Spring is still being defined,” said Lara Alameh, Executive Director of the Safadi Foundation USA.  “It is our hope that SSIPI will be there along the way to give rise to new and young voices and offer recommendations that will advance development and governance practices in the region.”

Transcript and video of event:
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-middle-the-storm-development-and-governance-the-arab-world

Speech by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde:
http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2011/120611.htm

Conference summary:
http://iis-db.stanford.edu/evnts/6934/SSIPI_conference_report.pdf

CDDRL Working Paper prepared for the Safadi Stanford Initiative for Policy Innovation: Electricity Sector Reform in Lebanon: Political Consensus in Waiting by Katarina Uherova Hasbani, Safadi Scholar of the Year.

The Safadi-Stanford Initiative for Policy Innovation is a partnership between Safadi Foundation USA and the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, that aims to promote viable policy recommendations concerning governance issues in Lebanon andthe Arab world.  The initiative selects scholars on a competitive basis and publishes their research and findings to be disseminated in the policy-making community.  The purpose is to promote new thinking and bridge the gap between development and governance in the Arab world.

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Safadi Foundation USA Announces Safadi Scholar of the Year

SAFADI FOUNDATION USA
ANNOUNCES SAFADI SCHOLAR OF THE YEAR


Washington, DC, September 12, 2011 –
The Safadi Foundation USA (SFUSA), the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD) at Stanford University and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) announce the winners of the first annual Safadi-Stanford Initiative for Policy Innovation (SSIPI).  The title of Safadi Scholar of the Year has been awarded to Katarina Uherova Hasbani, an energy policy expert at the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut, Lebanon.  The title of first runner up has been awarded to Miriam Allam, an Economist for the Middle East North Africa Governance Program at the Regulatory Policy Division, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

SSIPI was established to promote new scholarship and analysis on Lebanon.  “SSIPI represents the link between the academic and policy worlds that Stanford’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy aims to nurture,” said Dr. Lina Khatib, Program Manager at Stanford.  “The research by Hasbani and Allam addresses some of the core challenges impacting governance in Lebanon and the rest of the region.  Hasbani’s paper on the reform of the electricity sector and Allam’s discussion on public consultation are both strategic areas vital to linking citizens and institution building,” said Lara Alameh, Executive Director of Safadi Foundation USA.

Both scholars will have the chance to present their policy recommendations at a conference in Washington, DC on December 6, 2011.  “It is an incredible opportunity to receive the support of SSIPI for my research on consensus-based electricity sector reform as a vital element for Lebanon’s future economic and social development,” said Hasbani.  Stay tuned for information regarding the upcoming conference.

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Safadi Foundation USA Launches Open Call for Papers

SAFADI FOUNDATION USA LAUNCHES OPEN CALL FOR PAPERS ON LEBANON

Washington, DC, February 24, 2011 – The Safadi Foundation USA (SFUSA), The Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World at the Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) announce an open call for papers on behalf of the Safadi-Stanford Initiative for Policy Innovation (SSIPI). SSIPI seeks policy-focused papers that provide clear and concise recommendations to the Lebanese authorities, the international donor community, and other regional groups. The objective of SSIPI is to promote new analysis on Lebanon. Qualified applicants have the academic freedom to choose a paper topic of their choice within the realm of economic development and entrepreneurship. Papers should include recommendations that address the linkages between economic development and institution building, security and civil peace, and other governance related issues. In addition, papers should reflect a deep understanding of the role of institutions and whether accelerated, more balanced economic growth, social and fiscal reforms, a particular process of economic development or new developing areas of entrepreneurialism, if any, could help in reducing the negative influences posed by confessionalism in the economy. Abstracts should be submitted according to the guidelines below. Upon review of the abstracts by an independent reviewing committee, a select group of scholars will be chosen to submit their full paper and compete for the title of Safadi scholar of the year. SSIPI will offer the Safadi scholar of the year the opportunity to develop a piece of research at CDDRL, led by Larry Diamond, as well as meet with strategic policy makers in Washington, DC. The scholar will have the chance to present their research at a policy conference in Washington, DC.

Requirements:

Deadline for one-page abstracts is March 31, 2011. Abstracts should be emailed to SSIPI.2011.Submissions@gmail.com. Please note “Abstract Submission” in subject of email. The selection committee warrants applicants from academia, the public and private sectors, and NGOs, either from Lebanon or abroad, who are working on economic development and entrepreneurship in Lebanon. Qualified candidates should hold a graduate degree from an accredited university.

http://cddrl.stanford.edu/research/safadistanford_initiative_for_policy_innovation/

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Safadi Foundation USA Launches Policy-Based Visiting Scholars Program

SAFADI FOUNDATION USA LAUNCHES POLICY-BASED
VISITING SCHOLARS PROGRAM
Washington, DC – The Safadi Foundation USA (SFUSA) and The Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World at the Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding that officially launches the Safadi-Stanford Initiative for Policy Innovation (SSIPI).
SSIPI aims to establish a proactive policy program that cultivates new scholarship on Lebanon while outlining policy recommendations that aim to boost the capacity of Lebanon’s institutions, which are the cornerstone of the country’s independence and sovereignty. “SSIPI will strategically advance the interests of Lebanese civil society by creating an objective and independent forum that addresses serious governance issues,” said Lara Alameh, Executive Director of SFUSA.
In January 2011, SSIPI, in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), will announce an open call for applications focusing on Lebanon’s economic development and institution-building. Scholars will be chosen on a competitive basis and may be academics or practitioners from anywhere in the world who are doing work on the topic indicated in the call for applications. A nonpartisan and independent review committee made up of policy-makers and scholars in the field will select a Safadi Scholar of the Year and up to two runner-ups from the submissions received.
SSIPI will offer the Safadi scholar of the year the opportunity to develop a piece of research at CDDRL, led by Larry Diamond, as well as meet with strategic policy makers in Washington, DC. The scholars will have the chance to present their research at a policy conference in Washington, DC to be held in the autumn of 2011. Lina Khatib, Program Manager at CDDRL, said, “SSIPI encapsulates the aims of the Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World at Stanford University, which are to produce grounded, policy-relevant work and to engage with both scholars and practitioners involved in reform in the region.”
For more information, visit http://arabreform.stanford.edu
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Recommendations for Lebanon’s New Government

Recommendations for Lebanon’s New Government 

 

Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri submitted a thirty-member Cabinet line-up to the President of the Lebanese Republic today.  The new government will now prepare a policy statement to be presented to the Parliament for a vote-of-confidence.  Safadi Foundation USA believes the formation of a Cabinet in Lebanon presents an opportunity to advance Lebanon’s development and build support for state institutions that will ensure Lebanon’s true independence and sovereignty.  “The Lebanese parliament should immediately assert its role as a center for national debate and dialogue and begin to constructively engage youth and civil society in an effort to abolish confessionalism, accelerate administrative decentralization and spread a culture of peace in accordance with the Taif Accord,” said Lara Alameh, Executive Director of Safadi Foundation USA.  Reforms are necessary to ensure Lebanon’s independence so that it is not vulnerable to external influence and regional relationships.

The following benchmarks outline recommendations for the Government of Lebanon in the areas of political reform, civil society and education.  The donor community should support these reforms for a more sustainable development in Lebanon:

Political Reform

Electoral Law: In light of recent parliamentary elections and the upcoming municipal elections, the government of Lebanon should give new life to the establishment of a revised electoral law that includes additional reforms not yet passed.  Specifically, the President should designate an independent and nonpartisan Committee to reaffirm the findings of the Boutros Commission and outline a set of recommendations for parliament to implement in advance of the 2010 municipal elections.

Decentralization: The Government of Lebanon is working with local and regional councils to draft a decentralization law to be debated and passed by Parliament.   The Government of Lebanon should request assistance and resources from the donor community to help draft a modern decentralization law that would be adopted for the Lebanese case and would not threaten any of its communities.  Additionally, donors should work with current municipalities to provide them with technical and infrastructure related assistance needed to implement administrative reforms.  A certain percentage of budget support to the Government of Lebanon should be based on conditionalities to disburse that aid to the municipalities.      

Capacity Building: Lebanon’s ministries face serious governance challenges.  Most positions reflect the confessional design of Lebanon’s political institutions and acute levels of patronage.  The donor community should help the government of Lebanon build a culture based on meritocracy through expanding training and technical support programs for individual Ministries.  These programs will help raise the quality and knowledge of people within the government.   Programs should include increased pay for public sector positions, which are approximately sixty percent less than private sector positions.  Donor countries should coordinate their efforts to sponsor reform in Ministries that demonstrate leadership at the Director General and/or Ministerial level. 

Civil Society

Donor Assistance: Currently, mechanisms for oversight of donor funding in Lebanon are limited.  The Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) and the High Relief Committee (HRC) are not long-term solutions to addressing Lebanon’s development needs as they do not address Lebanon’s national needs in a comprehensive manner.  Oversight of all donor assistance in Lebanon needs to be expanded to include appropriate parliamentary committees, local and regional representatives and increased community participation.  The Government of Lebanon should establish a Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation in order to coordinate donor assistance and ensure that donor projects are in line with national strategies.  

Capacity Building:  Lebanon has many registered NGOs from smaller towns and villages who do not benefit from international donor funding because they do not yet have the technical know-how or the support of a donor network to apply.  Larger Lebanese NGOs should use their experience and expertise to reach out to smaller NGOs and form partnerships to help them build their capacities. 

Education

Youth:  Lebanese youth face high rates of unemployment, violence, school dropout, delinquency, and emigration. These youth should be taught skills to enhance their job prospects such as training in entrepreneurship, English language, and information technology.  In addition, peace-building programs that promote tolerance and cross-confessional dialogue should continue to be implemented.  The Government of Lebanon should formulate economic policies that focus on job creation for youth and encourage college graduates to remain in the country.

Civic Participation:  The political system and public administration are over centralized, mostly corrupt, and inefficient; the lack of meritocracy has limited citizen participation, particularly of youth.  Civic Education that features concepts of citizenship, good governance, and public participation in the democratic process should be standardized in all schools.  Enhancing citizen participation on a municipal and regional level will help break down traditional barriers and improve the efficiency and authority of the central government throughout the country.  Citizen awareness campaigns should continue to be implemented at the local level.

Environment:  Lebanon faces severe environmental issues ranging from desertification and clean water to the endangerment of the famed cedars.  These issues transcend confessional lines and if they are not solved can lead to future conflict.  Civil society and local and national governments should promote public awareness about the consequences of poor environmental policies and practices.

 

Safadi Foundation USA is a non-partisan registered 501 (c) (3) public charitable tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting a national and strategic framework for Lebanon’s development.

 

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Safadi Foundation USA Announces Launch of New Washington DC Based Office and Website to Support Lebanon’s Human Development Objectives

Safadi Foundation USA Announces Launch of New Washington DC Based Office and Website to Support Lebanon’s Human Development Objectives

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today Safadi Foundation USA announced the official opening of their office based in Washington, DC. Safadi Foundation USA is a non-partisan, charitable, tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting a national and strategic framework for Lebanon’s human development needs. “This initiative will build support for Lebanese civil society and raise awareness about Lebanon’s critical development challenges,” said Osama Khoury, President of the Foundation.

The Foundation’s development objectives include rallying support for a more efficient and sustainable development in Lebanon through projects aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society and fostering the growth of strong and independent state institutions dedicated to the rule of law, good governance and development in Lebanon. These objectives will be achieved by partnering international donors with local organizations proven to be accountable, transparent and effective.

The Foundation’s position in Washington, DC allows it to serve as a link between Lebanese local actors, namely its sister organization, and international and American human development organizations based in the USA. The Foundation also aims to strengthen the bridge between Lebanese local communities and the Lebanese and Arab Diaspora in a manner that will transcend sectarian and partisan narratives that complicate a deep understanding of Lebanon’s development challenges.

Since 2001, the Safadi Foundation in Lebanon has been working to improve the livelihood and participation of citizens through programs in the areas of information communication technology, agriculture, social development, health, sports, environment, education, culture, and youth.

A new opportunity for engagement with the Middle East and U.S. foreign assistance is at hand now. “It is likely that the ongoing economic crisis will reduce the level of resources available. Therefore, it’s a good time to think about the priorities of U.S. development assistance to Lebanon and what kind of opportunities can be gained from enhancing the quality and effectiveness of current and future assistance,” said Lara Alameh, the newly appointed Executive Director. The Foundation will serve as an educational resource among policymakers and government officials for sustained economic development assistance to Lebanon based on objective analysis, research and policy guidance.

Safadi Foundation USA is a non-partisan registered 501(c)(3) public charitable tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting a national and strategic framework for Lebanon’s development.

http://www.safadifoundationusa.org

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