Here’s How We Made a Lasting Impact in June 2019
Third Edition of LIMS Leaders’ Academy - LLA
Back in April, LIMS launched 2019 LLA; with more than 87 staff members and activists from 8 different Lebanese political parties registering for the first step LLA 101 Connect to Prosperity online platform. For two months, participants watched free market videos produced by top international policy experts and translated to Arabic by the LIMS team. 38 participants committed to LLA, each completed more than 50 videos and qualified to the second step, LLA 201.
LLA201 Economic Foundations for Free & Prosperous Lebanon
June 15-16, 2019- Le Commodore Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon

38 young intellectuals, politicians and political activists from the Amal Movement, the Azm Movement, the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces Party, the Marada Movement, the National Dialogue Party, the Progressive Socialist Party, and the Tashnag Party attended a 2-day workshop on economic freedom. Interaction between the peers sparked debates and engaged them in heated economic discussions over policies and ideas. They interacted and networked together disregarding their different political ideologies and affiliation. At the end of the workshop, every political party chose an economic policy issue to investigate.

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Elevator Pitch
LLA 201 included the yearly elevator pitch competition. Participants had one minute to convince the jury of a solution to an economic issue they chose to tackle. 15 participants from the different parties pitched their ideas discussing problems preventing foreign investments in Lebanon, the barriers of higher education, solutions for traffic, the monopoly of the national airline company, problems with public transportation, reasons behind high unemployment levels, current real housing problems, electricity shortages, waste incinerators, and free economic zones. Mr. Chris Jabbour from the Tashnag Party and Mrs. Zeinab Awada from the Amal Movement were the winners arguing respectively for opening the airline market to competition and establishing private toll roads to reduce traffic.
Econ Café
The second day kicked off with positive vibes and social networking between participants through our Speed Exchange session. The day then continued with the Econ Café, LLA 201’s activity that shapes each group proposition. Each political party chose one economic problem from the elevator pitch, discussed it, and suggested a reform to the panel of international and local experts for feedback. Participants elaborated 7 market-policy propositions regarding problems of infrastructure, the hold-ups to doing business, public debt burden, and many others.
Day 2 was marked by the presence of 2018 LLA graduates who presented their papers, spent the day with this year’s participants and shared their experience and insights on the challenges they are facing in having the reforms adopted by each group’s political party.

Click Here for Speed Exchange Video in Arabic
Click Here for Presentations and Feedback video in Arabic
Keynote Address by Dr. Tom Palmer
Guest speaker, Dr. Tom Palmer, executive vice president for international programs at Atlas Network, addressed the participants talking about the five essential principals for successful policy reform: (1) rules matter, (2) incentives guide behavior and outcome, (3) wealth is created through human activity and exchange, (4) think carefully about long-term consequences and (5) you can do it the way other countries did and succeeded. The 2-day workshop ended with the distribution of certificates by Dr. Palmer.

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Underwriting Treasury Bonds at 1% Interest Out Of Question  
June 11, 2019- new Lebanon Online Magazine, Beirut, Lebanon

The Lebanese government tried to pressure local banks to subscribe to 7.3 billion dollars of new treasury bonds at 1% interest rate compared to a 10% market rate. Dr. Mardini stated that banks managed to keep deposits afloat, despite the fears of a sovereign default, by offering a 9% interest to their clients. The suggested scheme would lead banks to lower interest on deposits, lose clients, and possibly default, making currency devaluation inevitable. The only way to reduce the interest rate is to cut government expenditure, and reduce government deficit, to decrease the risk premium on Lebanese bonds.

Click Here to Read the Article in Arabic
LIMS Pushes For a Fair Tender in Electricity
June 20, 2019- Le Maillon, Beirut, Lebanon

The Association of Lebanese Business People in the World gathered 40 local entrepreneurs and opinion leaders with the American Task Force for Lebanon, to discuss the barriers holding back Lebanese prosperity and their vision for the country. In this context, LIMS Director Ms. Kristelle Mardini, explained how LIMS sees the electricity sector divided into three: production, distribution, and transmission. On the production level, the government adopted the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format, allowing private companies into the sector. The focus now should be on the transparency, making sure the tenders committee’s opinion is implemented without compromise.  She also added that the tender should focus on long-term solutions and give bidders enough time to build the needed factories, instead of rushing toward an expensive solution.
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Other media platforms covering the luncheon (in Arabic): al-Hayat
Fighting Poverty in Francophone Africa
June 3-4, 2019 - Havila Residence Hotel, Bujumbura, Burundi
The Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (CDE) organized a 2-day workshop gathering 25 civil society activists from Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Participants discussed different chapters from the book “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt and explored the foundations of classical liberalism. Dr. Patrick Mardini moderated the discussion at 8 round-tables centered on the theme of “The Seen and the Unseen” when applied to public works, subsidies, and barriers to trade. The Socratic method was used to identify free-market propositions that would lift Africa’s Great Lakes region out of poverty.  

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Great Lakes Economic Summit: The Road to Prosperity  
June 5, 2019- King’s Conference Center, Bujumbura, Burundi

120 entrepreneurs, decision-makers and journalists from 6 countries, were invited by the CDE to discuss the regulatory obstacles facing businesses in the Great Lakes region. Dr. Mardini retraced the relation between economic freedom and the reduction of poverty. Countries belonging to the highest quartile of economic freedom live 15 years longer, have 8 times less infant mortality, and profit from a higher life satisfaction. Globally, the most poverty stricken in free countries account for less than 5% of the population compared to 50% in the least free and the income earned by the poorest 10% is 11 times higher. The region of the Great Lakes should liberate its economy to catch up with the prosperity following the example of several Asian countries.

Click Here to Read the Article in French
Other media platforms that covered the summit (articles in French): Kivu AVENIR, Radiotélévision Nationale du Burundi
Three Barriers to Development of Africa’s Great Lakes
June 5, 2019- King’s Conference Center, Bujumbura, Burundi

16 media outlets including TV and radio stations along with newspapers interviewed Dr. Mardini on ways to overcome the challenge of poverty. He highlighted the importance of free trade, property rights, and the rule of law. Today, trade restrictions and tariffs prevent the poorest living in the Great Lakes area from obtaining cheaper and better food. The constant extortion of entrepreneurs prevents them from opening businesses, hiring people who need a job, and growing the economy. The mere reduction of the current restrictions would unleash the potential of individuals and allow people to improve their lives.  

Click Here to Watch the Video in French
Other media platforms that covered the summit (in French): Mashariki TV, JOURNAL la television nationale
Trade Barriers Hit the Weakest in Africa
June 6, 2019- French Institute, Bujumbura, Burundi

Dr. Mardini discussed the role of media in battling poverty with 23 African journalists and bloggers. The heartbreaking story of Rwandese women who cross the borders every day to sell their milk in Congo came up. Rwanda has restrictions on the import of milk. Therefore, on their way back to their homes, the customs will force these poor women to get rid of their remaining unsold milk. They are obliged to throw it in the river, instead of taking it back to their families. Trade barriers are hitting the poorest families in the poorest countries and the media should report such stories.
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Foundations of a Virtuous Lebanon
June 18-21, 2019- DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Dr. Mardini obtained the Lynch Fellowship to attend the annual Acton University conference and to learn more about the intersection of faith, liberty, and free-market economics in efforts of promoting a virtuous and non-violent society in Lebanon. The 4-day event brought together more than 1000 liberty-loving friends with 60 distinguished speakers and scholars, leaders, and entrepreneurs from 70 different countries.
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LIMS Leaders' Academy
  • LLA 101: Connect to Prosperity
    Registration Closed
  • LLA 201: Economic Foundations for a Free & Prosperous Lebanon
    June 15 - 16, 2019 - Click here for pictures
  • LLA 301: Shaping Public Policy
    July 20 - 21, 2019
  • LLA 401: Policy Fair
    November 2019
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