The economic virtues of consensual confessionalism

A nice (maybe a bit simplistic) article in Al-Akhbar sums up the REAL problems in the Lebanon: no economic plan with national development goals (because state’s institutions are paralyzed, and now with the resignation of the 5 Shiite ministers, it’s even worse*), and no labor union or syndicates that truely function properly and represent the people (because the latter goes to his confession in order to get bread and butter) in order to denounce the absence of a plan. It is very scary to realize that the only thing our ‘majority’ of elected, base all their hopes on the “Paris III” conference – that was supposed to be a “Beirut I”, although the Lebanese government thought it more useful to go beg directly in Paris and not bother these poor potential donors all the way to Lebanon. Plus with Israeli planes roaming around there is always a chance they get bombed. Imagine that the pilot of a plane woke up on a bad day. You never know.
* before that there was never any economic plan anyway. How can you have a national economic plan when ministries, administrative positions, municipalities, regions, etc. are all divided up along sectarian lines? Lebanese have been so serious about being confessional that they did not leave one single political/social/cultural/economic institution not fragmentalized according to sectarian/tribal lines. That is the other side of “Consensualism”!
But it’s not fair to say that there are no plans: The CDR (Council of Development for Reconstruction) had an all worked out plan that only stayed in the drawers. Actually it was briefly in my hands when I worked at the Ministry of Economy. Nice document indeed with many graphs, colorful charts and grandiose plans to promote all the sectors (Agriculture, Industry, and Services). Good good, now you need a couple of officials to look at it and the dormant parliament to ratify it. Alas! I don’t think the olive trees will wait that long.
But it’s ok, you know why? Until then, Lebanon will just be one big beach and/or mountain resort for people to “experience the feeling of Lebanon”. Whatever feeling that is.

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