Path to prosperity

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during the Cedar (CEDRE) Conference for international donors and investors to support Lebanon's economy, in Paris, France, April 6, 2018. Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters

At a time when Lebanon has much to be upbeat about, and as the country stands with purpose at the start of a long and challenging transformation, the last thing it needs is ill-intentioned criticism.

Though the Lebanese are accustomed to constantly hearing the voices of such doomsayers, there comes a point when we must say “enough,” especially when the subject matter is clear for everyone to see and judge.

Glaring proof of global support resides in the fact that the Lebanese delegation went to the CEDRE conference in Paris on April 6 hoping to secure $6 billion in pledges, and came back with $11 billion.

Thankfully, sober heads usually prevail, including Speaker Nabih Berri, who has stressed that the convening of the meeting and the number of countries that attended both prove Lebanon has been embraced by the world and what remains is to turn plans into action. Berri also highlighted his support of how Prime Minister Saad Hariri intends to put the funds to best use. As for the prime minister, he has declared that the government’s goal is clear and that it is determined to move forward and implement its vision.

Another sober voice is that of Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh, who has dismissed vitriol that the pledges would prove the downfall of the economy, and assured that, on the contrary, they will be the catalyst that saves the country from economic collapse.

Even U.S. President Donald Trump, who said his country stood by Lebanon’s efforts to strengthen its legitimate state institutions and develop an open, free economy that serves all Lebanese, had words of encouragement, as did France’s leader Emmanuel Macron and several others, who were upbeat about Lebanon’s future and the projects planned with the money investors have committed.

The results of this conference open a path toward prosperity over the next decade, promising hundreds of thousands of jobs for the coming generations of Lebanese.

However, it goes without saying that this success will require the full support and commitment of every Lebanese, especially public servants and politicians who must move past petty politicking, quash corruption and embrace transparency. The alternative will undermine all the hard work put in by Lebanon’s champions and lose a rare opportunity to save our country.

In the words of Hariri at the end of the Paris meet, “The CEDRE conference doesn’t end today.” Rightly said, as it creates a vision, with a clear path, ready to be realized. Hopefully the message sticks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 11, 2018, on page 7.




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