Hariri Highlights Need to Modernize Legislation and Apply Investment Plans to Upgrade Infrastructure

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Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Thursday the need to upgrade Lebanon's infrastructure to bear the enormous pressure as the result of increasing number of displaced people and a growing population.

“We are recovering from a stage that was tough on all of us. These difficulties were exacerbated by the repercussions of the unprecedented number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Frankly, we cannot carry on like this. Because if we do, the crisis can become a disaster for everyone without exception,” said Hariri in a speech at the Lebanon Economic Forum, organized by Al-Iktissad Wal Aamal Group at the Phoenicia hotel.

“All political parties comprehend the risks, and there is concrete cooperation in the Council of ministers to deal seriously with the socio-economic situation. You know best that in the history of Lebanon, and in spite of all the challenges that we faced and are still facing, nobody ever invested in Lebanon and lost. The immunity of our economy protected us and helped us to subsist.

“However, today we cannot bet solely on our immunity. It has become necessary to back this immunity by regaining the confidence that was shaken in the past years. We have to work to improve our economic, financial and social indicators, and we have no other choice today but to amplify growth and increase the size of the economy,” added the PM.

“Because we are convinced that all our efforts in the short term must achieve higher growth rates, we started working on an ambitious investment program that extends over more than seven years, to compensate negligence, sagging infrastructure and decline in public services.

The draft budget discussions in the last period may have given the impression that our fiscal policy is only about the budget or current spending. This is not true: We are putting the final touches on an investment program for the advancement of infrastructure and public services in all sectors and regions. I want to restore the confidence of the citizen in the state and institutions,” he added.

“Regarding the Syrian refugees crisis we are working with the international community to address the humanitarian catastrophe they are going through. But this is no longer enough: Our infrastructure can bear three million people, now we have become 4 million Lebanese, add one million and a half Syrian refugees and about half a million Palestinian refugees, that means that the same infrastructure is bearing 6 million people.The least that must happen is to improve the infrastructure to face this pressure,” emphasized the Premier.

We are asking the international community to assume its responsibilities with us in this matter!

“Second: The launch of a comprehensive effort to modernize our legislation and procedures and make the necessary reforms. The goal is to reduce production costs, increase our competitiveness and improve the business climate. Let us be clear: We know that Lebanon is ranked 126 out of 190 in improving the business environment, 101 out of 138 in competitiveness of the economy, and 136 out of 175 in the Corruption Perception Index,” Hariri remarked.

“We want to work together to improve the classification of Lebanon. We want to regain trust, and we will regain it,” he concluded.

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