Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri made a speech on Friday during a dinner at the Grand Serail on the occasion of the selection of Lebanon as a regional center for the Middle East by "Change Maker", the Premier’s media office said.
During the dinner, the "Lebanon Impact 2018" Awards were distributed.
In his speech, he said:
“Amidst the political turmoil in the country, meeting with you tonight at the Grand Serail is a breath of fresh air I want to thank you all for.
It is really a breath of fresh air because when I see all this youth capacity, all these skills, creativity and entrepreneurs, I say that there is still great hope in our country and its future. And I remember that my belief in you, after God Al-Mighty, is unlimited. My faith in your ability to develop our economy towards the economy of technology and communications, the economy of knowledge that opens up great opportunities for young Lebanese entrepreneurs.
Thanks to our efforts, the economic environment is now ready to embrace and support initiatives. Over the past five years, Lebanon has witnessed investments of the value of $180 million in emerging technology companies. These investments have risen from less than $10 million in 2013, to more than $50 million in 2017. Lebanon place rose from fifth place in the region to second place last year, after the United Arab Emirates.
Our goal is to bring Lebanon back to the path of economic growth, job creation, and confidence in our country and in our youth. The outgoing government sent a number of new draft laws to parliament to improve the work environment, including a new bankruptcy law, new laws for private equity funds, secured lending, preferential shares, and judicial arbitration. All these new laws are in parliament at present.
In the outgoing government, we also worked with the Ministry of Telecommunications to provide the best internet service and we saw a tangible improvement in its speed, and work is still going on to improve it. We also established with the Ministry of Telecommunications a MIC Ventures Fund of the value of $50 million to invest in emerging technology companies.
We also established with IDAL a corporate support unit that provides free legal and financial advice. Our duty is to invest in our human capital to create a workforce that has the skills that emerging technology companies are looking for, and the capacity to develop these companies and innovate for the future.
For this, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers launched the “Summer of Innovation” to encourage activities in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, coding and technology.
Our ultimate goal is to transform Lebanon into a center of creativity in the region, and initiatives such as the one that brings us together, are a step in the right direction.
Our country has all that is needed to become a center of innovation: We have skills, recognized creative abilities, active investors, a supportive environment and an entrepreneurship culture. Today you are the ambassadors of the region, of Lebanon, of your generation and of the future of our economy. This is a great responsibility and at the same time a great hope for me and our country.
I want to thank and congratulate Ahmad Shakra and Kareem Samra who established the HULTZ price and to the work team who organized this event.
I would like also to congratulate all the candidates and especially all the winners, and I wish everyone a successful event.
Now, since this is transmitted live on TV and everyone is expecting political stances, especially about the formation of the government, allow me to say this: The whole country and all political forces agree on the necessity to form a government as soon as possible. I started from three rules that I will not abandon.
The first rule: The government will be a national entente government that includes all the main political forces so it can implement the reform and investment program that we prepared. We secured funding for its first phase of about $12 billion, during the CEDRE conference. Why? Because I consider that this program will save our country from the crisis, which is obvious to everyone.
The second rule: Since I am going to gather all the political parties around the table of the Council of Ministers and ask them to work together for the success of this program and the benefit of the country, the citizens and the youth like you, then any escalation and accusations are useless.
I am a working day and night, silently, and calmly, to reach this goal, and God willing we will achieve it.
The third rule: I know the Constitution, and everyone does too. I am working as Prime Minister-designate, according to the constitution, and there is no need for any controversies that have nothing to do with the real goal of our work, which is to form a government as soon as possible.
Some say that the lineup should respect the results of the parliamentary elections. This is only normal. The best way to respect the results of the parliamentary elections, the only criterion, is that the government, just as the Constitution says, should ask parliament, which resulted from the parliamentary elections, for its confidence.
If the lineup doesn’t respect the parliamentary elections, parliament will not give it its confidence. But if the government gets the confidence, then it cannot be contradictory to the results of these elections.
I would like to reassure you all. We will always believe in God first, and in Lebanon, the Lebanese, the Lebanese youth and in all of you and we will always work to achieve the goal. We will achieve growth, create job opportunities and improve infrastructure and the basic services so that you, the innovators, can achieve your unlimited goals”.
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