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Here’s How We Made a Lasting Impact in July 2019
LIMS Leaders’ Academy
 LLA 301 Shaping Public Policy in Lebanon

July 20-21, 2019- Le Commodore Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon

27 young intellectuals, politicians, and political activists from 7 major political parties qualified for LLA301; 87 initially applied to this 3rd edition of LIMS Leaders’ Academy. In a 2-day workshop, they worked with policy experts on how to draft a compelling free market-policy proposition to deal with Lebanon’s economic challenges. Participants are now expected to conduct their research and submit their policy proposition within 3 months.
From Policy Papers to Reforms and Laws
Mr. Akram Hassan, from the Lebanese Parliament, explained the different steps that a policy proposition should follow in order to become a law. He retraced the story of successful advocacy campaigns that managed to deliver change in the Lebanese legislation and emphasized on the reasons behind the success. After the plenary session, each political party worked with a set of facilitators, on defining the problems, identifying the root causes behind them, and discussing feasible solutions. 

Speed Exchange 
The program included a one-on-one speed exchange session, where members from different parties got to know each other, discussed, and defended their ideas. The room was buzzing with rational, nonsectarian, and productive arguments. After the session, each party regrouped and reviewed their policies in order to refine their proposals.
Click Here To View Day 1 Photos
Reforms for Peace and Prosperity in Lebanon
 
The second day’s plenary session showed how economic freedom increases the standard of living, improves life expectancy, reduce inequalities, helps the poorest in our society and promotes peace and happiness for all. Economic freedom was then broken down into 5 categories: the protection of the person and property, low regulation, free international trade, small government, and sound money. Afterwards, each party worked on refining their solutions and identified stakeholders, as a way to strategically position their policy proposition.
Click Here To View Day 2 Photos 
Upcoming - Policy Fair
 
By the end of the workshop, participants decided to investigate the following topics:  (1) challenges facing the creation of privately managed and owned toll roads, (2) the privatization of the dysfunctional railway in Lebanon, (3) criteria allowing decision-makers to identify public institutions that should be privatized, (4) a single digital window to cut the red tape and facilitate doing business in Lebanon, (5) establishing a free economic zone to solving the decline in investments, (6) reducing public debt through combating over employment in the public sector, and (7) opening the airline sector to competition. Participants are expected to present their work at the “LLA401 Policy Fair” and graduate from the program in November 2019.   
Click here for more pictures from LLA301 - 2019
Unbundling Gas Imports and Electricity Production 
July 8, 2019- An-Nahar Newspaper, Beirut, Lebanon
 
Since 2016, the government has been vainly trying to change the type of fuel used in power plants from oil to liquefied natural gas (LNG) in order to reduce the overall energy bill. The new electricity law voted for on April 30, 2019 allows private companies to enter the electricity market. Therefore, the government has considered imposing on the upcoming private electricity producers to build floating storage regasification units (FSRUs), in order to import their own LNG. In his interview, Dr. Mardini showed that the high cost of building FRSUs is a serious barrier to entry for smaller electricity producers. Instead, he argued for unbundling the sector, separating the supply of LNG from electricity production, and opening both markets to competition. 
Click Here To Read the Article in Arabic 
 
The 10th International Economists and Management Scholars’ Summit 
July 7-14, 2019- Northeastern University, Shenyang, China 

In many Asian and African countries, infrastructure is poor and people suffer from daily electricity outages, defective water and sanitation systems, as well as insufficient roads with continuous traffic jams, just to name a few issues. China, on the other hand, suffers from the opposite: ghost cities, empty highways, useless metros, trains, and airports. Dr. Mardini explained to over 200 people from around 10 countries that both problems are the natural consequence of government investment in infrastructure. Public works shifts resources from productive sectors, into sectors that look nice on paper, but are useless for the country. He then explained ways to allow private companies to invest, own, and manage different types of infrastructure projects.
 
Cryptocurrencies: from Bitcoin to Libra 
July 12, 2019- Cathay Institute for Public Affairs, Beijing, China 

Dr. Mardini discussed the difference between Bitcoin and Libra. He showed how Bitcoin is struggling to become a generally accepted means of payment for small daily transactions. The Lightning Network resolves some technical limitations, but is still unable to transform Bitcoin into base money. Facebook’s Libra on the other hand, is a privately issued banknote holding bank deposits and short-term government securities as reserves. Libra does not aim to become base money, nor a replacement for national currencies, or combat inflation. It is simply a practical means of payment that will be widely accepted by a large number of corporations for daily transactions.
Click Here to View Photos.
The Founding of Modern Lebanon: A Free Market Economy
July 18, 2019- Econ Journal Watch Podcast, George Mason University, United States 

In the post-independence era, Lebanon embraced a free market economy and different sects and parties agreed on deregulating the economy and opening the country to trade and free movement of capital. Lebanon became a very dynamic financial hub earning the title of Switzerland of the Middle East. Dr. Mardini argues that the election of an interventionist president in 1958 led to a change in mindset. When government grew larger, different fractions had the incentive to fight over controlling it which led to the civil war. Today Lebanon ranks low in the Economic Freedom Index and is on the brink of a default with 155% debt to GDP.
Opening the Water Sector to Competition 
July 23, 2019- Voix du Liban Radio Station, Lebanon  

The national water company decided to increase consumers’ water bill promising to use the extra funds for future investments in the sector. LIMS Senior Policy Analyst Majdi Aref argued that the water company provides a very poor service that does not justify any increase in price. He suggested repealing government monopoly over water and allowing private companies to invest in water. This solution would relieve the government of the 11 billion dollars planned for the sector while improving the quality substantially.
When?

Sunday November 17, 2019

What?

LLA 401 Policy Fair
&
LIMS Leaders' Academy - LLA 2019 Graduation Ceremony
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