Lebanon ranked 3rd with the highest level of government debt

3. Lebanon — 139.1%. The country used to be a tourist destination, but war in Syria and domestic political turmoil have caused ructions across the economy. (Source: The Independent).

Corruption, theft, rigged system, dirty politicians ….. and Al Sha3ib Al-3anid ….

The most corrupt groups in the region.

“In Lebanon, numbers are alarming as nine in ten people (92 per cent) say that they think corruption has increased. Government officials, tax officials and members of parliament are perceived to be the most corrupt groups in the region” according to the new Transparency International new survey.

“In some countries the situation is perceived to be particularly bad. In Yemen and Jordan three quarters or more of respondents (84 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively) say that they think corruption rose in the 12 months prior to the survey. This rises to over nine in ten people (92 per cent) in Lebanon, which was the highest of any place we surveyed in …. Citizens in Yemen and Lebanon think that the public sector in their country suffers from particularly widespread corruption. More than two-thirds of respondents (68 and 67 per cent, respectively) say “Most” or “All” individuals working in these institutions are corrupt, while a further quarter say that “Some” are corrupt (26 and 22 per cent, respectively). Only one in twenty (5 per cent each) thinks that the national public sector institutions are completely free from corruption …. People in Yemen and Lebanon are particularly critical of government efforts to address public sector graft. In Lebanon three-quarters (76 per cent) rate their administration’s efforts as either very or fairly bad, while in Yemen this proportion rises to nine in ten (91 per cent) …”

Rubbish job: dissatisfaction in Lebanon’s waste services Citizens in Lebanon are very critical of their government efforts at fighting corruption, with over three-quarters saying it is doing a bad job (76 per cent) in this area. Recently, many people have taken to the streets in Lebanon to protest over the government’s failure to dispose of waste in the country’s capital, Beirut, as part of the “You Stink” campaign, and public dissatisfaction is reportedly growing in the country over the extent of alleged corruption. iv Garbage collection services were stopped in some parts of the city in July 2015, after the country’s largest landfill site was closed. It took until February 2016 for the government to agree on a new site for the city’s refuse to go to – while, in the meantime, the growing piles of rubbish are causing a terrible stench and posing a significant public health risk to the city.  Campaigners blame potential corruption and political paralysis for the delay in solving the crisis. In Lebanon, refuse processing can be part of the bargain used by politicians when exchanging favours behind the scenes. The lack of transparency in such types of deals means that citizens can foot the bill for inefficient or expensive service delivery. The failure of the political system to deal swiftly with the garbage crisis has caused greater attention to be turned to such behind-the scenes-deals, as people became tired of the slow response from their elected representatives.


Citizens in Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt are more divided on this issue. Only around a half of the citizens of these countries (from 50 to 53 per cent) agreed that ordinary people can make a difference in fighting corruption, while a sizable minority feel disempowered…  People in Lebanon are the most pessimistic; a third (32 per cent) of citizens there say that there is nothing people can do … The second most common reason why people don’t report more cases of corruption is that they feel that it won’t make a difference, as nothing will be done about it (19 per cent). In Yemen and Lebanon (26 and 30 per cent, respectively) this is particularly the case, which perhaps reflects the lack of government capacity in both these countries.

The widespread extent of corruption in Yemen, Lebanon and Sudan in particular is also considered another factor why more cases of corruption are not reported there. In these countries respondents are particularly likely to say that the reason why people don’t report is that corruption is normal and everyone does it (between 11 and 14 per cent), or that the officials to whom they would report corruption are often also involved in it (between 14 and 15 per cent). When corruption is endemic within communities it triggers a feeling of resignation and apathy, which is why greater efforts need to be made to tackle bribery and other forms of corruption head-on.

Lebanon and Yemen stand out in the region as having the most negative ratings by citizens. Since Yemen was on the verge of collapse when the survey was conducted, these ratings indicate a larger malaise within the country just prior to the civil war and the imminent crumbling of public infrastructure and services. Lebanon, which is divided along sectarian lines, has failed to produce a functioning government since the former president stepped down in 2014.The public sector suffers from high levels of corruption according to its citizens, who are critical of government efforts at fighting corruption…

Way to go my fellow Lebanese. What are you going to do about it? Will you do something about it? When will you? Municipality elections coming up in couple of days, will you start there? I doubt.

A short Blacklist

oecd-logoAccording to the Devoir Article (French), Three countries are threatened to be added to the future blacklist of uncooperative tax havens of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to be established in July at the request of the G20, the group of twenty of the world’s richest countries : Panama, Lebanon and the Vanuatu archipelago. According to the “Devoir”, these three countries are not abiding by the rules that the OECD put in place for money laundering.

It seems that our fellow Lebanese are still involved in money laundering. When the Syrian regime pulled out of Lebanon, I mentioned that it is time to change everything and throw in history garbage can all political leaders and especially those who allied themselves with the Syrian occupation. The average Lebanese decided to line up with his old alliances. Results: no president, government and parliament divided, garbage crises, internet crises, no electricity, no water, Hizbullah weapons, religious division, Syrian refugee crisis, …. and maybe soon no country.  OECD Website

Energy – Refreshing news

After writing about Beirut River Solar Snake project, couple days ago, my friend Najib blogged about ABC Ashrafieh Mall and their plan to install the largest private photovoltaic plant in Lebanon on their rooftop. The project will give ABC Mall a capacity of 0.45 MW that is enough to power its department store. You can read more about the project on this link. ABC Mall move is in the right direction and I hope all these new high rises that they are building in Beirut will adapt the same mentality and cut their need for electricity. The Beirut River Snake project will generate 1,655 megawatt-hours per year and will benefit the resident of Bourj Hammoud area.

Due to corruption and mismanagement, Lebanon been suffering from electricity supply shortage. According to Lebanese National News Agency, Lebanon production of electricity will stay at 1,500MW in 2015, while the demand for electricity during the peak summer will be around 2,800MW. Électricité Du Liban (EDL) deficit will exceed $21 billion. The alternative is solar and wind clean energy.

According to the United Nations development program (UNDP), Lebanon has around 300 sunny days in a year with over 8- 9 hours of daily sunshine. Solar energy presents a clean alternative that can, if properly designed, remove the need for diesel self-generation and lower the national utility electricity bill.

In addition, Lebanon is not taking advantage of Wind Power to generate electricity. I am aware of Akkar Wind Farm project but not sure if we have similar projects under study. According to a 2012 UNDP-CEDRO report, Lebanon has at least 1500 MW potential with a mean of 6,100 MW! In the past two years the technology advanced and probably Wind Power can generate more electricity these days.

Couple years ago, I was discussing ideas with a Lebanese business person and he had a good idea for Wind Power: The Maronite church is one of the biggest real estate owner in Lebanon. The church should be approached with a project that generates revenue. The church will give the land (or rent it), the private sector will invest in Wind Power stations and sell its production to EDL at a competitive price. The project will help supplying clean energy (instead of those diesel generators), fill in the gap in electricity production and generate money for the private sector as well as the Church. In return the church can use the money to help the poor.

It is a great idea, but it needs some lobbying to convince EDL to buy electricity. You may say it shouldn’t be that hard because in July 2012, Lebanon signed a $360 million three-year contract to lease electricity-generating barges from the Turkish firm. The two barges combined are expected to generate 270MW of electricity. Who will need these barges if we have alternative energy? But keep in mind that several powerful people mad money from this barges deal and others are making millions from the electrical generators companies.

By the way, I didn’t even talk about Lebanon average rainfall (1 meter annually). Not only Lebanon could be selling water to its neighbors but the country could be a major generator of clean electric power, sufficient for its own consumption and even to sell to others.

Yes we have few projects here and there but so far it’s not enough. Corruption and electricity mafia will do their best to shut down these initiatives but it shouldn’t be a reason not to push forward.

Under Pressure: the impact of Syrian refugees on Lebanon

country-lbnThe continuous deterioration of the security in Syria as a result of the ongoing crisis has forced thousands of Syrians to flee to Lebanon. According to UNHCR estimates, by December 2015 Lebanon will host 1,846,150 Syrian refugees. In 2014, UNHCR had 1,435,840 Syrian refugee registered with them. Lebanon population is around 4.3 million. By the end of 2015, the Syrian refugees will represent around 43% of Lebanon population. The figures can be higher, many refugees sneak into the country without getting registered by the authorities.

Recently, the Lebanese government has established an inter-ministerial crisis cell, and imposed restrictions at the borders. These measures will not deter Syrians from entering the country. These scary numbers of refugees are putting a burden on Lebanese economy and will play a major role in Lebanon demographics in the future. Add to that, the misery these refugees are living in.

Lebanese had experience with refugees. They know how their generosity and the policy of opening doors to people in need backfired and dragged Lebanon into a civil war. During Arab-Israeli war, Lebanon opened its doors to Palestinian refugees. It is to note that currently, Lebanon is home to 1.5 million Palestinian refugee. Some regional and international powers decided to arm the Palestinians to wage a war against Israel from Lebanon. This decision dragged Lebanon into a civil war. Some might decide to do the same with the Syrian refugees in the future. Looking at what is happening between the two Muslim sects (Sunnite and Shiite) in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, it is inevitable that the Syrian refugees (mostly Sunnite) will be used to fuel a religious war in Lebanon.

Lebanon is in danger of entering a new civil war, it’s the duty of the international community to take charge of Syrian refugees crisis in Lebanon. Its their duty to avoid repeating the Palestinian example. The international community must take charge and issue initiatives to either end the Syrian civil war or accept these refugees in their countries. Lebanon, in its current political and economic crisis, can’t handle this amount of refugees.

By the end of 2015, the number of all refugees in Lebanon will be more than 50% of Lebanon population. A major disaster is in the making.

Enough – May 5, 2012 – 6PM @ Martyr’s Square

I got this from a friend and asked me to pass it along. I doubt this event or movement will make a difference but it is a step in the right direction.

لأنو الغلا “حديث البلد” و همّ البلد
خلّينا لمرّة وحده، نجتمع لنطالب بحقوقنا
مش لنهتف إلهن
السبت، 5 أيار، الساعة 6 المسا، ساحة الشهدا

Because the High Cost of Living is “The talk of the town” and its concern, let us for one unite for our rights and not to cheer them. Saturday, May 5, time 6 PM @ Martyr’s Square. Enough!

The picture says ” 8 and 14 everyone is hungry – Opposition or Supporters in front of the hospitals they dies – The Hand that can’t feed its family can’t vote – Enough”

Corruption is deeply rooted in Lebanese political system and society

Corruption: Lebanon way of life

“Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.” Karl Kraus

Change and Reform bloc leader Michel Aoun said yesterday that he has “documents” to verify the corruption allegations he made last Friday against some Lebanese political groups. It is funny how Aoun remembers these files when he doesn’t get what he wants in regards of appointment of his followers inside the governmental institutions. After a dispute between his ministers and ministers of the PSP, Aoun threatened that he will take the files of the “Ministry of the displaced” to court.

Lebanon is a fertile land for corruption. It is more than a way of life. Life doesn’t function in Lebanon without corruption. You want to get a driver license without taken a test, bribe someone. You want to build a building illegally, all you have to do is bribe someone. You want to import expired food to the country, just bribe someone. You want to get elected in the next elections (any election) just buy some votes.

Corruption in Lebanon exists in all its forms including bribery, nepotism, favoritism, patronage, embezzlement, kick-backs, and vote-buying.

Transparency International (TI), a leading non-governmental organization devoted to fighting corruption worldwide, released its annual Corruption Perception Index for 2011 that ranked Lebanon in 134th place among 183 countries worldwide and 13th among 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In their latest report on corruption, TI said: “The impacts of corruption are tremendous and can be classified as political costs rendering fragile the relationship between citizens and the state, financial costs especially in terms of investment and lack of corporate governance, as well as socio-economic costs.” To read their Arabic Report, follow this link: National Integrity System . Or you can read LTA’s Press Release on the results of the 2011 CPI in English.

Aoun might be right in the case of the “Ministry of the displaced” but he forgot that he never explained the whereabouts of $35 Million dollars that he took with him to France when he was exiled to France from the Lebanese treasury. He refused to return to Lebanon before the proxy-Syrian government closed all the files opened against him. Those were Public money. It was part of the deal for his return. The smell of corruption started to leak out from those around him. Even many inside the FPM critics say they can name a number of politicians who have benefited from compromises done by Michel Aoun, his son in law Minister Gebran Bassil and Prime Minister Miqati. They also started to talk about the electricity and gas and oil deals and who is getting a cut from the FPM ….

What is also amazing is how Aoun never talks about the corruption of his allies. It seems he is oblivious to the corruption of Amal. He tend to forget the “Majlis al-Janoub” ….  Aoun has files on certain politicians but for sure others have file on him and his entourage.

The Lebanese system prevents control and penalization. Culprits are protected by their respective communities and leaders. Everyone gets a cut and national interest doesn’t exist in Lebanon dictionary.

Lebanese must tackle the culture of corruption that is rooted in our society. Whistle-blower protection law and a freedom of information act should be passed in order to provide much-needed transparency for official government action. But such laws will not be introduced and if they pass, they will not be enforced. The lawmakers are part of this corruption culture of ours.

In order to defeat corruption, you need to have the right people in the right place. The battle against corruption starts in electing people who are ready to fight corruption. Will we see a change in the next election or will people decide to sell their votes and dignity to corrupt politicians?