Marwan Kheireddine is a Lebanese businessman who says he understands his homeland’s current economic turmoil better than most. The AM Bank chairman has been studying what’s going on in Lebanon and says a few changes need to be made. Lebanon's economy has shrunk by more than two-thirds in the past two years, according to Marwan Kheireddine, and more Lebanese citizens are sinking into poverty.
PBS reports that Lebanon’s currency is close to being worthless, electric power is on the fritz, and food shortages are an ongoing issue.
Kheireddine is currently appealing the results of the recent Druze parliament seat election in which he lost to Firas Hamdan. During his first 90 days in office, if elected, Marwan Kheireddine says he would have been ready to put a recovery plan in place that would lift Lebanon out of crisis and would have assessed in detail what government assets exist and what their potential is, along with what could be done to run things more efficiently.
Here are five suggestions Marwan Kheireddine has on how Lebanon can bolster its current financial state.
The Government Must Repay Its Debts
“The Lebanese are losing faith with their government,” Marwan Kheireddine says. “I'm asking the government of Lebanon to assume its fiduciary responsibility and repay all the debt that it has taken out of the financial system in Lebanon and pay it back over time.”
The business leader says if politicians could only put their political bickering to the side when it comes to the economy, more could be accomplished. “Unfortunately, our constitution and our way of political bickering is based on vetoes,” he explains. “Each community has veto rights and its own fear of the other community.”
He says transparent leadership could ultimately be the key to unlocking the region’s true potential.
Cryptocurrency Could Have an Impact on the Local Economy
Marwan Kheireddine says cryptocurrency could be a catalyst for the economy but it would require Lebanon’s economy opening back up to the global market.
“The Lebanese have been known to be leaders when it comes to embracing new technological advances and new payment methodologies,” he says. “However, in my mind, there's little chance for crypto to take a significant control in Lebanon's economy.”
According to dw.com, the price of products is soaring and goods cost three times more than they did a year ago. NPR recently reported that Lebanon’s hospital shelves are bare. Medication shortages continue and many Lebanese mothers are receiving no prenatal care during pregnancy and have to deliver their babies at home. According to NPR, others are abandoning their infants at the hospital due to a lack of funds to take the children home.
The Private Sector Can Boost the Economy
During his three-year run as minister of state in the government of Lebanon, Marwan Kheireddine says he worked to grow Lebanon’s private sector. For the past three decades, the entrepreneur says the private sector has consistently attempted to give Lebanon’s economy a jolt. He adds that Lebanon has been relying heavily on its expats who have found success outside the country and continue to send funds to family members still living in Lebanon. “In any country that you visit, you can dig and find the Lebanese, and the odds are you have some extremely successful Lebanese that are out there making it in those countries,” he says. “You go to the Gulf countries and most of their economy is run by Lebanese, whether Lebanese entrepreneurs or Lebanese-qualified managers. You go to a country like Mexico, for example, and Mr. [Carlos] Slim is the richest man in Mexico and he's from Lebanon. He controls a significant chunk of the telecom business in Mexico. You have similar examples everywhere, including in the United States.”
Lebanon Needs To Explore Its Untapped Resources
Marwan Kheireddine sees Lebanon’s younger generation as its most valuable resource. Having worked as a professor at the American University of Beirut and as a mentor, he says Lebanese youth are so highly educated, they are an asset for the international workforce. He’s also hired Lebanese youth over the years for various business ventures.
“Lebanon’s youth are among the most educated in the region,” he adds. “We are lucky to have an education that is comparable with the most developed countries around the world.”
The executive also says Lebanon appears to be sitting on large gas reserves that could buoy its economy.
The way forward is clear, says Kheireddine. Real change will happen when political leaders put the Lebanese people first. “[We need] a clear recovery plan to move us out of the bind we are in,” he says.
Published by Samantha Brown