This article first appeared at Executive Magazine on 14 January 2013
When Riad Salameh, the governor of Banque du Liban (BDL), Lebanon’s central bank, announced in November $800 million for a new stimulus package to help the economy grow in 2014 — he was perhaps guilty of overstatement. While there will be $800 million made available, what Salameh neglected to mention was that $468 million of it was actually unused money from 2013’s stimulus package which will be rolled over. As such, just $332 million of purely new money will be extended, less than 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
While Salameh was quick to stress that the primary reason for not releasing more money was fear of inflation, there are other factors that may have caused him to ease off. Put simply, the impact of the first stimulus package remains unclear, while the general weakness in the economy and low levels of confidence mean that the positive effect of any new round of stimulus is likely to be muted. In such a climate, and with the ongoing political impasse showing no signs of easing up, the governor is faced with the unenviable task of again shouldering the burden of moving the economy forward with limited tools.
Read the rest of the article here:
This article originally appeared on IRIN, the United Nations’ press wire. “If they throw us out, we will end up in the sea,” Zahar Sayed Ghadbaan says, her anger not entirely disguised by the joking tone. “We have nowhere else to go but here,” she says, gesturing towards the small hand-built home with a corrugated iron roof. The Ghadbaan family is one of 75 in the Palestinian gathering, or informal settlement, of Qasmiyeh in south Lebanon, where they are living with the prospect that their homes might be destroyed. Like many of Lebanon’s estimated 280,000 Palestinians, the family came to the country in 1948 after being evicted from their homes by Israelis. Now, 65 years later, they could be facing a second eviction. Qasmiyeh, unlike other areas where Palestinians have established homes, is not part of an official refugee camp run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). There are 12 such camps, recognized by the Lebanese government as holding official status under UNRWA management and the residents are protected against eviction. Read the rest of the article here Marathon_Map_annie.jpg Air strikes March 2015
A map by Yarmouk 63 on who controls the camp
This investigation was originally published in Executive Magazine.
Lebanese politicians are the least trustworthy in the world, or so its people think — in last month’s World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report the country scored 148th out of 148 in the ‘public trust in politicians’ category. The oil and gas industry is among the world’s most secretive, with Middle Eastern countries among the least forthcoming with their information, according to the pro-transparency group Revenue Watch.
Put these facts together and it is perhaps no surprise that many Lebanese are confident that any gains the country makes from offshore hydrocarbons will end up not in the new schools and transport networks the country so badly needs, but in the back pockets of the political classes. Assuaging these fears may be difficult, but if Lebanon’s politicians and policymakers are serious about doing so then being open and transparent in the process is the easiest route.
While political meddling has temporarily delayed the march toward extracting offshore resources, so far Lebanon’s Petroleum Administration (PA) has shown an admirable commitment to transparency. All of the representatives on the six-member body — charged with negotiating Lebanon’s agreements with international oil companies — come with international hydrocarbons backgrounds and, transparency groups say, have begun their operations in an open manner.
But while the PA may have been striving for transparency, there are questions being asked about the process by which Lebanon’s negotiations are being run by caretaker Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil.
Read the rest of the article here