Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Government Policy Statement: A Historical Document Fleshed Out

The Government Policy Statement to all out there is indeed a historical document. I want to share with you the policies that the newly-formed government promises it will accomplish so we could be able in a new era to hold our government accountable if it does not stay true to its promises.

The Ministers in the statement claim that this document is addressed to the Lebanese please do read this modest translation. At times, i translated every word, but at others, I tended to summarize. The document is long and extensive and cuts across all policies and standing issues. Look over it and you will find out how many issues and initiatives this government has promised to resume...Lebanon has been stuck in history for a while and it is time we move on to modernity and we progress.

I am indeed very optimistic. I have been speechless lately, because I am enjoying the show. I believe that each one of us is interested in a certain policy area, so scroll down and read what interests you. Let us not be too harsh on the first Independence government if it does not tackle all the issues we have in mind; as you read you will realize that the largest project ever is rebuilding our Lebanon across all levels. It is our duty as well, not only the politicians.

Best of all, I am excited to learn (check it at the end of the post) that the government has asked the Parliament to hold Accountability Hearings on a regular-basis (similar to what they have here in the U.S.). This is all good news. The Statement includes a closing word which I did not include (exhaustion!), but it basically talks about that the time has come for all of us to commit to moving our country forward by putting our parochial interests at bay and that this is truely what the Lebanese people aspire for. Enjoy the read!

Electoral Policy: Instate a modern and just electoral process, which includes a policy that encourages the formation of modern political parties and lowering the voting age to 18.

Establish a special National Commission to draw up the framework of the new electoral process. The Commission will include within it all the political parties and blocs that will contribute in the passing of the new law. The government promises that the Commission’s work will take no more than 5 months and passing it in Parliament should take place within a month thereafter.

Abolition of Political Sectarianism: After passing the electoral law, a commitment to establishing a National Commission to look into the steps towards abolishing political sectarianism.

Lebanese-Syrian Relations: Rebuild (emphasis on re) excellent Lebanese-Syrian relations; excellent in its depth, strength, transparency, and equality; excellent in putting its common interests above all considerations; excellent in meticulously implementing the memoranda of understandings among both countries.

A commitment to coordinate with the Syrians in negotiating any peace settlement with Israel.

The government promises to follow-up diligently on the case of the Lebanese prisoners and missing in Syrian prisons.

The Resistance and Foreign Policy: Protection of the Resistance and recognition that it is a genuine Lebanese manifestation of our right to liberate our lands from any occupation and the commitment to a peaceful dialog that revolves around the available options we have within a framework that takes into account the Arab stand towards Israel and that ensures Lebanon’s sovereignty and national immunity.

A commitment to the Beirut Arab League Initiative (namely recognizing the State of Israel if Israel agrees to return to the 1967 borders) and the respect for all UN resolutions and international law and legitimacy.

A belief in the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and the commitment to continue follow-up on all Lebanese prisoners and missing in Israeli jails.

Commitment to cooperation with the Lebanese in the Diaspora across all sectors.

Administrative Reform: Increase the competency levels in public agencies and develop the administration’s human capital with a commitment to rely on a policy based on valuing and rewarding merit and competency, and not one based on loyalty and association.

Public Services: improve the quality of public services and respect for the public’s rights and dignity through adopting modern, simple, swift, and transparent procedures and moving forward with the e-government initiative.

Administrative Decentralization: implement decentralization with special emphasis on strengthening municipalities and their decision-making power and equitable, comprehensive development.

Security Policy: Reform the security apparatus and assume the authority to assign and reassign security-related positions across all executive levels. Support the army and strengthen the Internal Security Forces to ensure the maximum security for the Lebanese as they go about their lives.

Introduce a bill to Parliament committed to reforming security laws on telephone wiretapping and other security and punitive laws.

Judicial Reform and Affairs: Ensure independence of the judiciary and judges and commitment to judicial reform and restoring of citizens’ confidence in this institution that constitutionally is mandated to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens. A fair and independent judicial system will also help restore confidence among foreigners and increase foreign investment.

A commitment to swiftly resume the authority of the Constitutional Council by speeding up the assignment process.

Investigation in Recent Assassinations: Full cooperation and coordination with the UN Investigative Team to uncover the perpetrators behind the late Hariri’s assassination attempt (including Fleihan and others) and bringing them to justice. Commitment to uncovering and trying the perpetrators behind the assassination of Hawi and Qassir and the assassination attempts of Murr and Hamade.

Information Policy: Commitment to the right of free speech. Strengthen the role of the National Information Council after closely revising its role and membership to ensure that only the most qualified are included.

Commitment to support the bill asking to reopen MTV.

Privatize National TV and Radio, with the government assuming the Golden Share to ensure that the national interest is respected as well as citizens’ rights.

Revise the laws and regulations pertaining to advertisements in a manner that invigorates this vital sector and help attract large investments.

Economic Policy: Restore confidence in the economy by unleashing the promised economic reforms of Paris II and those proposed in the FY 2005 budget proposal.

Combat corruption and waste and encourage and reward productivity and rely on accountability and transparency measures.

Encourage equitable and sustainable development to help eradicate illiteracy, poverty, and disease and help target underserved communities.

Build the tenets of a modern economic system that is flexible enough to accommodate rapid technological changes and that is responsive to workforce needs.

Emphasis on cooperation with civil society organizations, including youth organizations and business and industry associations.

Economic and trade integration with other Arab countries, the EU, and accelerating the process of accession to the WTO and commitment to uphold the principle of property rights and combating piracy.

Encourage local production by focusing on products and services of added value and that also comply with international standards, especially agricultural produce.

Encourage start-ups in small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that allow Lebanese youth to stay in Lebanon by integrating them into the country’s business and productive base. Ease and lower the barriers to entry and exit into the marketplace.

Allow for more women and youth participation in the labor force by encouraging them to assume leadership positions in the public administration.

Tax Policy: Modernize the tax structure to effectively collect taxes.

Public Spending and Public Debt: Guide and lower public spending and modernize the management of the public debt.

Privatization: privatize the telecommunication, electricity, and energy sectors.

Financial Policy: Strengthen the financial markets by endorsing a freer stock market and encouraging the privatizing corporations to put their stocks on sale to the public.

Re-establish the ties with countries friendly to Lebanon formed during Paris II and commitment to a financial reform plan accepted by all political parties and blocs.

Workforce Policy: Institute reformed workforce policies and adopt modern job codes for public-sector jobs.

Social Policy: Put an end to dire poverty by meeting the millennium goals stipulated by the UNDP report on Lebanon.

Institute social safety nets in health care, education and retirement benefits and focus on servicing vulnerable populations (disabled, elderly, orphans, etc..)

Improve the return on investment from the provision of key social services (education, health care) in order to ensure a wider and more comprehensive coverage of beneficiaries.

Education Policy: Based on 3 tenets: 1) freedom of education while ensuring the public good; 2) linking education across all levels to the demands of the labor market; and 3) participate in world progress and encourage the acquiring of innovative knowledge by tapping into Lebanon’s cultural and economic openness.

Continue with modernizing the educational curricula and fully enforce the right of primary education for all citizens to strengthen citizenship.

Secondary Education: Encourage vocational and technical education and ensure that certification is properly linked with the needs of the labor market.

Post-Secondary Education: Focus on issues related to the Lebanese University, as it upholds the principle of national unity and again ensure that the post-secondary education is properly linked to the needs of an ever-changing economy and our expanding role in the Arab region and the world.

Follow-up on the completion of the Hadath LU edifice which encompasses all faculties.

Institute a law that guarantees LU’s independence, high-caliber academic instruction, and resolution of its standing issues.

Institute a law that sets clear standards for the establishment of private universities and colleges to ensure that the best educational instruction is provided.

The government is aware that our status in Lebanon is a result of two components: freedom and diversity, and across all sectors, especially in education and culture. This is why is it imperative to work towards achieving the highest levels of quality in all educational levels and across all its institutions.

Cultural Policy: Ensure that the rights of innovators and scholars are protected by passing laws that enforce these rights. The government looks to support and encourage innovation and cultural creativity without directing or restricting them; culture is not a commodity but part of our Lebanese heritage.

Telecommunication Policy: By coordinating the efforts of the Telecommunication and Finance Ministries, audit the revenues of the cellular and land-line networks and ensure that revenues are channeled properly to the state treasury and resolve all standing issues in that vital sector.

Decrease taxes on internet usage.

Encourage specialization in the telecommunication sector as it considered a vital tenet of a knowledge economy.

Energy Policy: Instate a short to medium-term program to deal with the electricity problem, which has cost the state massive resources and has drained the pockets of the public.

Resume the installation of electricity poles across the country.

Establish a well-programmed strategy for importing fuel oil from other countries with the least cost possible.

Push for the implementation of the energy agreement with Syria in order to operate the natural gas pipelines.

Enforce the electricity bill collection mechanism.

Set strategies to forge partnerships between the private sector and countries interested in exporting natural gas to Lebanon.

Move forward with Corporatization of all energy-related state-owned sectors with an eye towards full privatization at a later stage.

Accommodate increased energy needs by maintaining and building more electricity plants through private sector funding.

Study venues to tap into the hydro-electric industry.

Continue with building of dams and lakes based on the 10-year plan and agreements signed the Lebanese that protects our rights to the Assi, Hasbani, and Grand South rivers.

Continue with the study of the Litani project and other irrigation and water resource initiatives.

Health Policy: Move forward with the plan to reform the public health care sector in order to ensure a modern, fair, and comprehensive care for all citizens.

Women, Youth, and Sports: Enforce all the clauses agreed on by Lebanon during the 1995 World Conference on Women held in Beijing.

Encourage the role of youth, especially with regards to providing them with lending and insurance policies that encourage and protect their projects and initiatives.

Encourage sports activities and the formation of clubs away from the undertones of sectarianism and regionalism.

Environmental Policy: Set a framework for coordination and cooperation between the Environment Ministry and respective civil society and environmental organizations to encourage reforestation and protection of water resources, and limit desertification.

Acquire loans to deal with issues related to sanitization and solid waste management.

Integrate environmental policies across all levels of the overall development policy of the country, enforce all respective laws and regulations, and discourage parochial interests that continue to destroy our environment.

Cabinet-Parliament Relations: This a new era, the era of full implementation of the Taif Agreement, the era of respect for our Constitution, the Parliament, and the institution of the Cabinet, which emphasize the principle of separation of powers.

Stress accountability and transparency between the two institutions and the continuous communication among both to better strengthen the work of the government.

In that light, the government welcomes the idea to hold accountability hearings on a regular-basis, similar to what takes place in many democratic countries; a move that upholds the principle of separation of powers and further bolsters our democracy and Constitution.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Lebanese Meze said...

Thank you for translating this document Doha.

Mustapha said...

Great reference!

Thanks Doha

Anonymous said...

Yes, Doha, I also appreciate your efforts, as I can now read this most important document.

If they pass 25% of the items listed and get half way through another 25%, it will be a legislature to be admired and remembered. If they do that much, it just might enough to encourage the Lebanese people to accept a new concept of elections and political representation.

Way to go, Lebanon!!

barney g.

Anonymous said...

GREAT job! I am optimistic...


jp said...

Now the benefits of an and reasonably free election can be seen. Congratulations and good luck again,

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

sounds good

Anonymous said...

Yeah it's a great declaration, but I'll wait for a realisation before celebrating.
If you read the history of lebanon, you'll see that promises to reform the confessional system, the judiciary and others, - even the electricity distribution - is nothing new. We had these same problems even before the war.

Yet I'm optimistic, especially for the electoral law, since there's a timeframe.

Anonymous said...

BTW the media has brainwashed all the americans into believing that all the credit for syrian withdrawal has to go to the US.

Hadn't all the lebanese people demonstrated in unison for syrian withdrawal, then it would never had happened.

And yes, we had election and a democracy before all this. I agree it was a flawed system. The flaws are still there, but the change in leadership brings us hope that they will be fixed.