A New Government’s Priorities

to-do-listNow that the formation of a new government is, ahem, just around the corner, I thought I’d attempt another crowdsourcing experiment, since the last one was so successful.

The theme? Coming up with the agenda for Lebanon’s next government. Feel free to make as many suggestions as you can regarding the most urgent areas that need government action/reform/lip service. The person who submits the largest number of suggestions will win an all-expenses-paid weekend trip to Hummus-Land.

Suggestions can be as ambitious and unrealistic as “eliminating the public debt”, “cracking down on environmental destruction,” or “passing a just and fair electoral law on a non-sectarian basis”… or as modest as “enforcing the seatbelt law.”

After we’ve amassed a sizable number of priorities, I’ll put up a poll where you’ll be able to vote for your top choices. The floor is open.
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25 thoughts on “A New Government’s Priorities

  1. – Passing a law to have Civil Marriage in Lebanon
    – Passing a law where a woman can give the Lebanese nationality to hear children
    – Finishing all the road construction work
    – Eliminating the public debt
    – Making the driving test harder
    – Ending corruption in our beautiful bureaucracy
    – Having more qualified employees in Social Security and well Wizaret!
    – Enforcing a non-smoking ban on all closed places

    … ah this is too much dreaming for a decade

    Posted by Liliane | October 30, 2009, 9:57 am
  2. In no particular order:

    -Passing laws to separate state from religion.
    -Implementing all clauses of the Taef Accord in order for people to stop using it as a bloody propaganda horn…
    -Preparing a five year economic plan…
    -Passing laws to liberalize the telecom sector.
    -Privatizing the telecom providers and issuing a third license to encourage competition.
    -Passing necessary legislation for a Beirut Metro
    -Increasing taxes on cars depending on size and carbon emissions and reducing them on smaller cars.
    -Encouraging automation in the public sector.
    -Passing necessary laws to liberalize e-commerce in Lebanon.

    Posted by Tarek | October 30, 2009, 10:47 am
  3. How about launching a new, non-sectarian political pressure group to promote the winning entries?

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | October 30, 2009, 1:34 pm
  4. Ending the legal disenfranchisement of Palestinian refugees, starting with laws and decrees that exclude them from, or drastically limit their access to, the labor and housing markets.

    Posted by Darwish | October 30, 2009, 2:27 pm
  5. Electoral Reform


    Deconfessionalization (implementation of all articles in Taif)

    Privatization of electricity and telecom sectors

    Traffic regulation

    Reforming the political parties law

    Arms outside the state starting with those of the Palestinians (enforcing what was agreed upon during the National Dialogue)

    Posted by Osama | October 30, 2009, 5:08 pm
  6. (1) Conduct an honest census limited to those who live in the country.

    (2) Representation in the national assembly strictly based on #1.

    (3) Elimination of gerrymanded electoral districts. If voting is to be based on confession, then the seats allocated in #2 to a group are only voted on by that group. No embedding confessional seats in a district so that the likes of Mr. AlMurr can decide which candidate of the Armenians wins.

    (4) Elimination of any reservation of any government position to any confessional group.

    Posted by Roger | October 30, 2009, 6:16 pm
    Ban argileh “shisha” smoking
    Ban honking
    Ban smoking in elevators, hospitals and everywhere else
    Ban littering
    Ban not standing in line
    Ban being pretentious
    Ban words such as “habibi” “tekram 3aynak”
    “walaw” and “Bee amrak”
    Last but not least execute all POLITICIANS and taxi drivers

    Posted by V | October 30, 2009, 9:28 pm
  8. Ambitious and unrealistic:
    Passing a law that enables a Lebanese Christian man to marry his Palestinian boyfriend and pass him the Lebanese nationality. Create a light rail rapid transit system in Beirut.

    Fix the potholes on the roads. Fix sewage system. Have electricity for more than 6 hours a day.

    Posted by Wa Law | October 30, 2009, 10:38 pm
  9. There are a lot of issues that I’d like to see addressed. Unfortunately, many of these (rights for Palestinians, enforcing Ta’ef, bicameralism, reforming citizenship laws, etc.) are subject to very different worldviews and would be unlikely to garner popular support across the board. There are, however, issues that could gain support across sectarian and political lines. I’ll limit myself to those:

    1. enforcing traffic laws, including actually using new traffic lights and giving out tickets for moving violations
    2. seriously working on upgrading and modernizing the country’s electrical grid and infrastructure
    3. improving the water infrastructure to eliminate waste and leakage so that water is available to everyone while also working on better purification systems so that the water supply is potable
    4. reforming telecommunications and opening the market to other companies while drastically lowering the government tariffs that make calls so expensive
    5. investing time, money and effort into reforming the public school system so that a family is not forced to send their children to private school in order to get a good education
    6. implementing a unified nation curriculum, including the history curriculum dealing with the civil war that was developed by historians from all areas and sects but finally shelved by the government
    7. beginning serious consideration of a public transportation system, whether its state-run buses, a light rail tram or a subway
    8. including foreign workers in domestic labor laws, expanding their rights when it comes to lodging, wages, time off, etc.
    9. implementing an amnesty for foreign workers who no longer have papers, allowing them to either regularize their situation or go back home

    Posted by sean | October 31, 2009, 3:36 am
  10. – Create more green spaces and plant more trees in urban areas: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/life-near-a-city-park-can-be-as-healthy-as-out-in-the-country-998212.html
    – Designate more public land as protected nature reserves.
    – Renovate and refurbish all historic buildings, by providing financial assistance or incentives if necessary for privately owned buildings. And create a listing system for protecting architectural heritage buildings like they have in the UK: http://www.heritage.co.uk/apavilions/glstb.html
    – Nationalize coastal beach areas and ensure unfettered public access
    – Encourage Lebanese people to seek employment in all fields in order to erradicate the notion that certain jobs can only be filled by sub-classes of migrant workers who have no rights.
    – Introduce affirmative action or quotas for employing more women in public offices.
    – Change the legislation so women can pass their nationality to their children.
    – Open public libraries in each neighbourhood.
    – Unify the school curriculum, including for religion classes taught in schools of the same confession.
    – Introduce human rights education, sex education and education on drugs in schools.
    – Clone Ziad Baroud.
    – Develop an efficient public transportation system.

    Posted by Blackstar | October 31, 2009, 5:21 am
  11. Oh, and lastly: Recycle.

    Posted by Blackstar | October 31, 2009, 5:23 am
  12. 1. Reform the ISF. Proper law enforcement is crucial to any development. Achievable by:
    – Elongating and toughening the formation and training of ISF officers with more emphasis on discipline
    – Banning people with a recent criminal record from applying to the ISF (amazingly this isn’t the case)
    – Probing into the practices of torture and violence carried out by the ISF
    – Setting up a hotline allowing people to call and report cases of, for example, police turning on their sirens to edge through traffic to make it to their favorite restaurant down the street to get their free meal of the day, offered to them by the restaurant owner in addition to some amount of cash because they let cars double and triple park in front of his place thus causing the traffic in the first place!

    2. Fight corruption. Everywhere. Standardization and automation of operations in ministries and governmental organizations.

    3. Set up proper health care, social security, or fix the mess in the Daman.

    4. Legalize cannabis. Encourage farmers to plant it in its recreational and industrial form.
    – Recreational: allow licensed outlets (dispensaries, or cafes) to sell it. The government can tax it heavily. The income from taxes, increased tourism, export, and jobs created would provide a huge boost to the economy.
    – Industrial: a sustainable hemp-based industry producing paper, clothing, construction material and others could be set up.
    Law enforcement officials could then concentrate on other issues, like fighting hard drugs, or fighting terrorism.

    5. Probe into what the public money is being spent on, and where it is being wasted.

    Posted by mas | October 31, 2009, 6:12 am
  13. Clone Ziad Baroud 30 times, and put him (them) in charge.

    Posted by rmi | October 31, 2009, 6:39 am
  14. lol, love it.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 31, 2009, 8:01 am
  15. I know it’s a tall order, but abolishing the confessional system should be the number one goal.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | October 31, 2009, 11:19 am
  16. It is surprising that nobody is mentioning a reform of the public administration — the way administrative personnel is recruited, selected, controlled, promoted or discharged.

    Inspection agencies and non-politicized (or “less politicized” bodies) ought to have more power in recruitment, selection and evaluation.
    Otherwise, you’ll always have people who are there only because they are friends and supporters of X rather than Y.

    This is, I think, a preliminary condition to fight corruption and ensure a viable reform of the different sectors (telecom, welfare system, public healthcare, environmental protection, etc.)

    Posted by Wa Law | October 31, 2009, 12:25 pm
  17. I hope that some of your readers; those that read Arabic; will enjy the following which is making the rounds in Lebanon. That is a promising, creative and welcome solution to the Lebanese project.

    خذوا الحكمة من افواه السكرانين

    مشروع الى الشعب اللبناني الغشيم

    بما ان السياسيين قد دمروا النظام بالكامل ولم نعد بحاجة الى انتخابات نيابية كون النتيجة ذاتها مهما كانت نتيجة الانتخابات وكذلك بالنسبة الى الوزارة فرأسأ القبائل ورجال الدين هم من يختارون القسمة واصبح رئيس مجلس النواب بواب يحمل مفاتيح مزورة غير قادر على فتح المجلس بها . اما رئيس مجلس الوزراء اصبح باش كاتب ينفذ اوامر الطوائف في قسمة الاغنام اللبنانية اما رئيس الجمهورية فهو شاهد زور على المجزرة . من خلال هؤلاء السياسيين افلس البلد فهم يسرقون جميع المداخيل ولا يعملون الا في قسمة الناس تغطية على سرقاتهم .
    ان هذا العبد الفقير الذي يكتب هذه الاسطر لديه حل عظيم لهذا الشعب الغشيم والمفلس في نفس الوقت .لدي حل في التخلص من جميع الزعماء ورجال الدين الذين يكلفون الشعب اللبناني المليارات من النهب والسرقات هذا عدا الدين الذي لا يحلم احد في سداده وحتى لو باعونا كعبيد في سوق النخاسة .
    الحل وهنا نبدأ من رأ س الهرم نزولاً .
    – نبيع رأسة الجمهورية لمن اراد بمأتان وخمسون مليون دولار ولمدة اربع سنوات . طبعاً والرئيس الجديد يسكن القصر الجمهوري ولديه حرس وسلطته تكون على الحرم والخدم فقط.
    – نوقف الانتخابات التي لا طائل منها ثم نجعل عدد النواب ثلاث ماية نائب دون النظر الى الدين او المذهب وحتى لو كان جحشاً وطبعاً بدون سلطة ولكن مع لوحتان زرقاوتان واحدة للرجال واخرى للنسوان . نبيع كرس النيابة لهؤلاء بخمسة وعشرين مليون دولار . وهكذا نحصل على سبعماية وخمسون مليون دولار نزيد عليهم مليارين دولار تكلفة النواب الحاليون مع السرقات . زائد :
    نؤجر صالة مجلس النواب كنادي ليلي ( كابريه ) ومكاتب النواب كغرف حمراء وذلك بقيمة خمسة ملايين دولار سنوية .
    نؤجر دكاكين حول مجلس النواب لبيع الاحذية وثياب النساء الداخلية وصيدليات تبيع الفياكرا بخمسة ملايين دولار . هكذا نكون قد حصلنا من مجلس النواب على مدخول مع التوفير على مبلغ مليارين وسبعماية وستون مليون دولار .
    – الوزارة
    – نجعل الوزارة خمسون وزيراً لمن اراد من القبائل او رجال الدين . نبيع كرسي الوزارة بالمزاد واوبسعر مقطوع بخمسون مليون دولار لسنتين مع التسهيلات بحمل جواز سفر برتبة وزير دولة . بذلك نحصل على مبلغ مليارين وخمسماية مليون دولار نزيد عليها مليار دولار قيمة السرقات وبذلك نكون قد ربحنا من الوزارة مبلغ ثلاث مليارات وخمسماية مليون دولار .
    هكذا ايها الاخوة نكون قد جمعنا ستة مليارات ومأتان وستون مليون دولار في حال تخلصنا من السياسيين ورجال الدين هذا عدا المنافع التي سوف تعم البلد من الاستقرار والامان .
    هنا تسألون ومن يدير المزرعة . طبعاً نؤجر ادارة المزرعة الى شركة خاصة بعقد سنوي يجدد حسب حسن سيراعمالها .
    بهذا المشروع نتخلص من السياسيين وعائلاتهم اما بشأن رجال الدين فالامر اهين بكثير . فبمجرد ان نأجر الدولة ونتخلص من السياسيين تتوقف جميع اعمال رجال الدين وتخف مداخيلهم الى االلا شيئ تقريباً لذلك يتخلون عن مهنتهم بسرعة عجيبة ففي السماء لا يوجد دولارات ولا تلفزيونات . بعد ذلك لن تجد ولا رجل دين الا العميان في المقابر .
    بهذا المشروع العظيم يعيش الشعب الغشيم ويسدد ديونه وبدل ان يكون قطيع من الخرفان يصبح مجتمع للأنسان .
    كذلك لدينا مشاريع كثيرة لكن معرفتنا بالحساب قليلة لذلك توقفنا هنا .

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 31, 2009, 6:21 pm
  18. Thanks Ghassan. But why stop at these prices? Ebay!

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 31, 2009, 7:47 pm
  19. Other than the amazing ideas that had been mentioned:

    Opening up the electric grid for private enterprises.

    Opening the door for private waste treatment facilities and passing laws that would make recycling a must in every home.

    Setting up of a private fund for alternative energy with a 20 year plan that enables Lebanon to supply 100% of its energy demand through wind and solar power.

    Implementing a sustainable agricultural policy that rewards farmers for their hard work, marijuana planting included.

    Making Lebanon an arms-free country after cracking down on all armed people, whether it is current militia members, previous militia members/army personnel, drug lords, Palestinian refugees, Hezbollah militants, etc.

    Setting up a committee of “wise men” to be the sole authority entitled to negotiate on Lebanon’s behalf.

    Clarifying all the ambiguous points in the constitution.

    Reform the industrial sector, and implement laissez-faire economic policies that would encourage competitive-market-driven economic growth, hence creating jobs for Lebanese in their home country, and cutting down on corruption in public offices.

    Subsidize wineries and improve on their touristic appeal.

    From the previous posts I especially like the civil marriage proposal, abandoning of the sectarian system, reforming the electoral law, treating Palestinians in Lebanon as human beings, allowing women to pass on their nationality, privatizing the telecomms/electricity sectors, legalizing and taxing both the production and sale of cannabis, reforming all public sectors starting with the ISF, enforcing traffic laws with point-deduction systems.

    Posted by Purple Monkey | November 1, 2009, 2:20 am
  20. Maybe a way of turning away from the navels of community/religion axis will be to start focusing on the “material”. I’m thinking of electricity and water production and consumption: couldn’t Lebanon be able to not only provide for itself but to sell it to neighboring countries? This also asks for the careful watching of Israeli tactics in the borders, in order to prevent any lebanese water seizing moves.
    The second “material” question that is basic for Lebanese survival is transportation, public and private. It does look politically insurmountable, but IMHO the construction of a subway network (in the axis Akkar – Beirut, for a start) is the only viable solution to traffic. It would help making Lebanon more cohesive, and it would be the only way to reduce the number of cars. Lebanese should demand the next Government to prove its ( so expensive) Unity and their dedication to Lebanon First by using the next 4 years to tackle the water/electricity file looking at the long term, and to start studying the layout of a subway-like public transportation, so the next government can execute it.

    Posted by mj | November 1, 2009, 6:56 am
  21. I dont think a subway system would be possible given the amounts of archeological treasures that are still unearthed all over Lebanon. Excavation and construction would suffer significant delays everytime they find something and wait for archeologists and a decision from the government.
    But I do think a kind of light rail system, or even reviving the tramway system, would be wonderful. Couple that with a train network linking North to South and Beirut to other Arab cities like Aleppo, Damascus and Amman.

    Posted by Blackstar | November 1, 2009, 8:15 am
  22. Now I know why you’re called Blackstar, you party pooper

    Posted by mj | November 1, 2009, 1:50 pm
  23. Thanks to all for providing such great suggestions for the next government’s priorities.

    I will try to streamline them all and then figure out how to create some kind of voting mechanism to narrow the list down to a top 5 or top 10.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | November 1, 2009, 9:27 pm
  24. to commenter #16, I did say it “Ending corruption in our beautiful bureaucracy” but didn’t go into details though!

    Posted by Liliane | November 3, 2009, 10:57 am
  25. MJ,
    I’m not pooping anyone’s party! Light rail and trams are way more fun than a dark underground subway system.
    I say: the party is in the tramway.

    Posted by Blackstar | November 4, 2009, 6:52 am

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