13 May 2016

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday invited the Lebanese private sector to participate in developing major infrastructure such as electricity and telecoms.

In our opinion, the partnership between the public and private sectors must include key sectors like electricity and communications, including tenders to award licenses to the private sector to produce and operate multiple factories with capacities of not less than a thousand megawatts to secure 24 hours of electricity in all of Lebanon, Hariri told participants in the Arab Economic Forum at Beiruts Phoenicia Hotel.

Hariri also disclosed that his Future Movement is hammering out an economic plan to stimulate the Lebanese economy.

We in the Future Movement are elaborating a plan to reinvigorate national economy through improving the business environment, starting with the adoption of the public-private partnership law, he added.

According to Hariri, the Future Movement plan includes reinvigorating tourism through a global advertising campaign that aims at promoting tourism in Lebanon.

The plan also aims at reducing telecommunications and Internet tariffs, the privatization of the mobile networks and the provision of new broadband licenses to encourage new investment in the high-speed fiber-optics network across the Lebanese territories, he said.

He added that the plan will also involve the private sector in the public transport network.

We are studying a metro project, and a maritime transport project between the coastal cities while requesting from the municipalities to secure parking on its properties in big cities. We also plan to implement the project of improving and developing Beiruts southern and northern entrances, Hariri said.

Hariri also touched on the future of oil and gas exploration in Lebanon. The plan also aims to launch bidding for gas and oil exploration and extraction, as well as ratifying the law governing the work of the sovereign wealth fund to preserve the revenues from oil and gas for future generations and allocate part of it to decrease public debt, he added.

Hariri stressed that combating poverty is part of Future Movement plan. The plan also focuses on improving social conditions through a series of measures, notably financing and expanding the beneficiaries from the National Poverty Targeting Program, and ensuring health coverage to every Lebanese who is not covered by any other health plan. Last but not least the plan includes a lasting solution for the garbage crisis and tenders for thermal disintegration and financing the sustainable management of solid wastes, he added.

Hariri argued that the election of a president is also essential in creating a better economic climate in Lebanon. The capability of the Lebanese private sector, the clear and calculated economic vision that we have, as a movement of achievement and development in Lebanon, and our optimism to attract the investments and projects of our Arab brothers to our country, depend on putting an end to the current paralysis in the states institutions that results from the vacancy in the presidency, he said.

Hariri added the current efforts should be focused on finding a solution to this crisis and on convincing all the political forces of the necessity to elect a president as soon as possible. Because electing a president will constitutionally be followed by forming a new government, he added.

This political process would renew confidence in the stability of the Lebanese system and in the continuation of the structural reforms in its economy, based on free enterprise, competition, flexibility of the private sector and the creativity of the Lebanese people, Hariri said.

Hariri said he believes that the preservation of stability is key element of attracting investment into the country.

If Lebanon is able to preserve its stability, democratic vitality and the level of education, medical care and services, despite all these crises, just imagine the opportunities and investment horizons this country would achieve when these crises begin to recede, Hariri said.

Copyright The Daily Star 2016.