McKinsey to help set economic vision. Idiots and geniuses battling it out - Lebanon

McKinsey to help
set economic vision
Idiots and geniuses battling it out

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The Cabinet has assigned McKinsey the task of helping the country formulate an economic policy in cooperation with the relevant ministries and other entities, said Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury.

A six-month agreement was signed with the international consultancy firm to conduct a study which will cost $1.4 million.

According to Khoury, the major aim of the economic policy is to define a suitable economic model for Lebanon and to identify economic sectors with value-added potential. He said that all measures will be taken to protect, encourage, and issue the required laws to support these sectors. The government’s policy regarding investment incentives and job creation will be based on the findings of the study, Khoury said.

Charles Arbid, Chairman of the Economic and Social Council, said that the Council will play a crucial role in the study since a major part of it will consist of communicating and listening to players in different economic and productive sectors. He said that they have reached an agreement with the Minister of Economy regarding the Council’s participation in the study. According to Arbid, meetings with the concerned parties will start next week.

The measure has triggered virulent opposition. MP and former minister Walid Jumblatt said that only idiots (he used the term 'donkeys' in Arabic) would do such a thing. Khoury responded on Twitter, saying that maybe it will take idiots to succeed where geniuses have failed for 28 years.

Former minister Nicolas Nahas said that it is commendable to conduct scientific studies about the economy but the key issue is implementation. He said: “What’s the point of spending millions of dollars on studies whose findings are not taken into consideration?” There were five to six previous valuable studies, conducted since the Paris I donor conference, not a single recommendation was executed, according to Nahas. The reforms, especially the creation of regulatory authorities, called for by the different donor conferences have not been carried out.

According to economist Marwan Iskandar, there is no need for an exhaustive and complex study and such undertaking could very easily be done locally. “The study is not going to bring any new findings that are not already known,” he said. Iskandar said the government’s aim regarding the study could be to present the outcome to international donors at the next Paris conference.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
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Date Posted: Jan 12, 2018