Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati
Beirut – Georges Chahine
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati believes that his country's economy can thrive once regional stability returns to the Middle East.
Speaking at the Lebanon Economic Forum's inauguration ceremony on Thursday,
Mikati apologised for failing to deliver on his promise of securing the Lebanese economy from the ravages of regional turmoil.
He placed emphasis on the strength of Lebanon’s economic structure, which he said spared it from more terrible consequences seen in other countries. He pinpointed Lebanon's banking sector and currency as two areas of strength which can help drive the country forward.
While industrial exports were growing exponentially, Mikati also said that difficulties facing the tourism sector, the real estate freeze and shrinking incoming capital have all lead to a large deficit in the balance of payments and a reduction in the rate of growth.
The Prime Minister called on all Lebanese leaders to set aside political disputes and work together in tackling economic challenges and maintaining growth. His plea came after a national dialogue meeting set by President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace was cancelled. The boycott from fellow leaders "showed Lebanese leadership is incapable of reaching a resolution or unable to arrive at a willing consensus without external sponsorship," Mikati said.
In his concluding words, there was hope for a better future. "Lebanon’s tomorrow will be better than its present, and one, united, strong state will win the day.” He also expressed hope that the economy of Lebanon will recover its vibrancy especially after the completion of the gas and oil exploration project, "what is important is for us to continue to meet for Lebanon and the unity of its soil and its people within a framework of multiculturalism and diversity, and for a flourishing economy.” he added.
Mikati was addressing a large gathering of Lebanese, Arab and global economic, financial and commercial figures in attendance.