Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Assignment for all Lebanese: think about what you want for Lebanon!

I want to join my fellow blogger arch.memory in calling for all Lebanese to think about specific changes that we want for Lebanon. Forget the threats of foreigners; forget the fear of the future; its time to think about possibilities!

Those of us who are abroad have a special responsibility in this regard. Although no place in this world is ideal, there are some places that "work" better than others. Lebanese who are in Europe, the United States and East Asia should do our best to carefully study our environment, and relate it to Lebanon. We owe it to our parents, siblings and friends who we left behind.

Let us not fall into the trap of criticizing those in power, or even seeking power, without having articulated political thoughts and opinions. One of the most important processes in politics is when individuals and groups in societies are able to inform politicians and leaders specifically what they want - and then pressure them to deliver.

On that note, I will end my commentary, and provide you with some interesting data that I got from a World Bank web page. Maybe, it could be a launch pad for further discussion about what is next for our beloved country! It summarizes for us the challenges that Lebanese face in attempting to realize the fundamental right of every human being to make a comfortable living in his own land. I look forward reading feedback pertaining to the validity of these measures, whether they deserve to be listed as a priority in the Lebanese political agenda, or whether there are other economic indicators that supercede these in importance (in the Lebanese context), among other things.



Starting a Business in Lebanon(2004)

The challenges of launching a business in Lebanon are shown below through four measures: procedures required to establish a business, the associated time and cost, and the minimum capital requirement. Entrepreneurs can expect to go through 6 steps to launch a business over 46 days on average, at a cost equal to 131.5% of gross national income (GNI) per capita. They must deposit at least 82.3% of GNI per capita in a bank to obtain a business registration number, compared with the regional average of 856.4% of GNI and OECD average of 44.1% of GNI.

Number of procedures6106
Time (days)463925
Cost (% of income per capita)131.551.28.0
Min. capital (% of income per capita)82.3856.444.1

Getting Credit (2004)

Measures on credit information sharing and the legal rights of borrowers and lenders in Lebanon are shown below. One set of indicators measures the coverage, scope, quality and accessibility of credit information available through public and private registries. A second set measures how well collateral and bankruptcy laws facilitate lending. It ranges from 0-10, with higher scores indicating that those laws are better designed to expand access to credit. Lebanon has a score of 4, compared with the regional average of 3.9 and OECD average of 6.3. The Credit Information Index measures the scope, access and quality of credit information available through public registries or private bureaus. The index ranges from 0-6, with higher values indicating that more credit information is available from a public registry or private bureau. Lebanon has a score of 4, compared with the regional average of 2.1 and OECD average of 5.0.

Cost to create collateral (% of income per capita)
Legal Rights Index43.96.3
Credit Information Index42.15.0
Public credit registry coverage
(borrowers per 1000 adults)
Private bureau coverage
(borrowers per 1000 adults)

Protecting Investors (2004)

The degree to which investors are protected through disclosure of ownership and financial information is measured below. The Disclosure Index captures seven ways of enhancing disclosure: information on family; indirect ownership; beneficial ownership; voting agreements between shareholders; audit committees reporting to the reporting to the board of directors; use of external auditors; and public availability of ownership and financial information to current and potential investors. The index varies between 0 and 7, with higher values indicating more disclosure. Lebanon has a score of 1, compared with the regional average of 2.6 and OECD score of 5.6.

Disclosure Index12.65.6

Enforcing Contracts (2004)

The ease or difficulty of enforcing commercial contracts in Lebanon is measured below, using three indicators: the number of procedures counted from the moment the plaintiff files a lawsuit until actual payment, the associated time, and the cost (in court and attorney fees), expressed as a percentage of debt value. In Lebanon, the cost of enforcing contracts is 26.7, compared with the regional average of 17.9 and OECD average of 10.8.

Number of procedures393819
Time (days)721437229
Cost (% of debt)26.717.910.8


Firas said...

I would like to plant some trees on many of our barren mountains. I remember when I was kid, there used to be more wild green spaces. Now it's more barren mountains and soil-avalanches. The quarries that belonged to untouchable politicians were responsible for most of it. This is not a romantic tree-hugger dream, it's common sense! The situation is ugly, and it's hurting tourism and the entire ecosystem.

Raja said...

firas, I get your point. Every time I look at baren mountain tops in Lebanon, dissapointment sets in. Replanting the cedars really should be a national priority. We won't see green mountain tops in our lifetime, but we should do it for our grandkids!

ThinkingMan said...

But will they listen? You are describing a modern/western style democracy whereas we still have provincialism that usurps democracy in Lebanon.
The hope is that some of this will change with the new elections. I think the Lebanese society is very creative and will start to make their voices heard more and more. Civil society and civil institutions are powerful forces in a modern democracy.

Firas said...

I would add the following to my wish list:

1-Infrastructure for Knowledge Economy (High speed internet, e-commerce legislation, online banking, etc...)

2-A census.

3-Infrastructure for "Medical Tourism". We have a very high number of doctors per-capita. We not have our medical expertise and institutions available to be outsourced to the region. This may even help pay for some form of socialized medicine.

Raja said...

Firas! I've always thought about the "knowledge economy" and medical tourism as potential sources for economic growth in Lebanon! How can we make something of this? Do you have any specifics that you could share with us?

Doha said...

Within the same line of thinking about potential sources of economic growth in Lebanon, I would like to suggest an idea that I've entertained for a while and have discussed before with Raja, which is namely: identifying a number of high-growth/high-demand industries in Lebanon. Once such industries are identified, then planning around them becomes easier. We can start to plan how to develop such industries by gearing education towards placing more poeple to fill jobs within these high demand industries and planning how our economy should be developed to accomodate the needs of such industries.

What do you think? So far, we've agreed that there are the following high-growth/high-demand industries:

1- Information Technology
2- Health Care (within it falls Medical Tourism)

I will add:

3- Retail Industry
4- Hospitality (Within it falls Medical Tourism)

Can we add Advanced Manufacturing?

Raja said...

Doha, the problem with the retail and hospitality industries is that they have very little "value added" capacity.

We need industries that have several layers - each of which adds value to a specific service or product. I second your call for more discussion on this topic, and on that note, call for more detailed posts and comments about the IT and Healthcare industries. I really believe that Lebanon's future is closely intertwined with them

Doha said...


I believe you're a bit mistaken branding hospitality and retail as industries that bring no added value to the Lebanese economy. There is a lot to be done in these industries.

1- With regards to Hospitality, the added value comes from leveraging untapped labor pools and regions to revitalize this industry. For instance, you have most of the north basically untapped for that industry as well as the south. Plus, think about how we can start catering for medical tourism and hospitality and student tourism (like opening youth hostels, bed and breakfasts, that are still rare in Lebanon).

2- With regards to the Retail industry, as of now, most of this industry is very ad-hoc. There is little planning that goes on. For instance, if one shop starts making Saj, the whole street will start selling the same thing. Moreover, and I can speak for Tripoli, most of the shops sell food products, clothes, and cell phones...so very much geared towards consumption.

What needs to be done in the retail industry to bring some added value to it is to try to link it to the globalization chain, wherein these retail shops would be part of a chain, selling products that can be used for manufacturing or agriculture...basically to complete the chain of production.

These are some ideas. How am I doing defending those industries? ;)

Firas said...

A quick note, I'll add more to the debate as soon as I'm done with some work tonight: I'm NOT the Firas who is listed on the "contributor list." I've been posting some comments on your blog here and there for a while, but I just want to clarify that.

Just so you know. bback to this discussion later...


Raja said...


don't worry, we're aware that you are different from the Firas who is a member of this blog.