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Hariri: Digital transformation is the best way to fight corruption

In a press release by Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Press Office on Saturday, it indicated that PM Hariri deemed during an economy conference that digital transformation is the best way to fight corruption.

"The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said that we have a golden opportunity today, pointing out that the implementation of the CEDRE Conference will start after his visit to Paris where he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, and then Lebanon will be able to benefit from the loans granted to it," the statement indicated.

PM Hariri added that "the government is taking all the necessary steps to show the world that Lebanon is on the right track, starting with the passing of the essential laws to fight corruption and reach the stage of digital transformation and e-government.

I am very optimistic about the future of the economy in Lebanon, because everything we do is founded on a scientific and not random basis. This will show that we are a stable country that does everything necessary for development and growth, the Prime Minister asserted.

Hariri's remarks came this afternoon during an open dialogue with the participants in the Digital Lebanon Conference" organized by the Ministry of Telecommunications, the Ministry of State for Administrative Reforms (OMSAR), the Ministry of State for Investment and Technology, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the World Bank Group, at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut.

He said: Digital economy is one of the pillars of the Lebanese economy. The main concern of the Lebanese citizen when doing any formality is to finish it on time. We, for our part, seek that this be done electronically with all the required cyber security and the platforms that the state must provide. I believe that the most important natural wealth we have is the Lebanese citizen. We started this path, the platforms for the networks have been launched, and we can finish 30% during this year, 70% during next year, whereby we can finalize all fiber optics networks with all connections by 2021. At the same time, we had a meeting yesterday with the World Bank to define the strategy and timetable of all the steps that we will take for the digital economy.

Hariri added: Unfortunately, investments in the telecommunications sector started in 2017, and this investment requires time. Today there is a strong team working to turn Lebanon to a digital country. This team includes ministers and advisors and the most important is the cooperation between all departments to achieve this result.

Answering questions from the audience, Hariri said that the government is taking all the necessary steps to help start-ups, particularly in terms of laws and negotiations with the World Bank.

He said: Work is underway to develop an electronic tax law to protect the rights of all those working in the digital field, and efforts with the World Bank focus on the public sector to develop an integrated strategy. Previously, there was a great effort in this field, but it was scattered. Today everyone is working together to do whatever it takes to reach this strategy.

In response to another question, Hariri said that his first goal is to reduce the number of the state employees after it has grown enormously in recent years. Thus, the government has decided in the 2019 budget to suspend employment for three years, and we must begin by changing the way the state is managed. The public sector cannot manage all the facilities it is managing today. The public sector has to supervise the management by the private sector of a number of facilities, and there is also the public-private partnership.

On the other hand, he stressed the need to have a consensus on all the reforms the government intends to undertake, both in terms of the general laws in Lebanon or the laws pertaining to each sector. All ministries without exception need to amend laws, and today we aim to turn Lebanon into a digital country.

He said: I am confident that if we focus in the next few months on completing the 2020 budget and approving the reforms and the related decrees, then by the end of next year or the beginning of the year after, we would have started to improve our situation, and the international rating institutions will begin to see that we are serious about our reforms. Today we have a golden opportunity, and CEDRE will be launched after my visit to Paris and my meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. Then we will be able to benefit from these loans. CEDRE is based on investing in the infrastructure, which will provide liquidity to the Lebanese economy and thus generate economic growth. The McKinsey study also focuses on sustainable growth and determines plans on a scientific base.

He added: Give me a year without any political problems, and the sky will be Lebanon's limit, and then we will be able to solve all the country's economic problems. The duty of the state is to build platforms, and to change and reform laws, and then to let the private sector work. This is what we are doing today, nothing will stop us, and I strongly believe that the transition to a digital economy will move Lebanon from where it is today to a much better place.

Hariri said that digital transformation is the best way to fight corruption and carry out the necessary reforms. This is why the government is focusing on this sector that helps all domains in the country without any exception, which in turn facilitates and organizes the life of people.

Regarding the oil and gas sector and what it can bring to the Lebanese economy, Hariri said: Lebanon's real treasure is its youth. Our expectations should be logical. Yes, we have oil and gas, but we also need to realize that the first excavation will begin in the next few months, and there is a 20 percent chance that it will succeed. However, this sector will improve Lebanon's economic standing in the world and will contribute to the growth of other sectors."

Source: National News Agency

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