Prime Minister Saad Hariri delivered a speech at the opening of the 17th edition of the Doha Forum.
"I am pleased to be here with you today on the occasion of Doha's 17th Forum. This forum is proving its importance year after year in discussing the most urgent political, economic and social issues in the region and the world.
It also allows to discuss these issues with leaders, experts, academics and businessmen from around the world to reach solutions that achieve stability for all our countries," Hariri said.
"The most important thing that our Arab region needs today is stability. No security, development or prosperity without stability.
This, in my opinion, must be the primary goal that we should achieve together and as soon as possible.
The extremist groups are fully aware of this and are trying to destabilize the whole world. They have become a danger that should be confronted through the cooperation of all countries, societies, religions and cultures.
In the age of globalization, extremism has become globalized, and so have terrorism and dangers. There is no way to confront them except by a globalized response.
Our Arab countries are facing many challenges, some of which are common to all states, while others are specific to each country. Each country and society has its own approach to face these challenges. But the goal of all these approaches is one, and should be one: creating job opportunities, particularly for the youth.
This goal can only be achieved through the stimulation of economic growth and full partnership between the public and private sectors. One of the priorities of the government in Lebanon is to achieve the partnership law between the private and public sectors, which will be the framework for activating this partnership. You all know that Lebanon suffered during the last three years from a political paralysis that reflected on the economy. But today after the election of the president and the formation of the government of "Regaining Confidence" government, the indicators are starting to improve. We also launched a group of reforms to revive all sectors of our economy. Here I thank the Arab funds that have always supported the development projects in all Lebanese regions," he stated.
"The economic development of Lebanon is facing a special difficulty represented by the presence of one and a half million displaced Syrians and half a million Palestinian refugee on its territories.
The Lebanese state and civil society fulfilled their duties and obligations towards this humanitarian crisis and still are. But Lebanon will not be able to continue to face the repercussions of this crisis alone. The number of displaced and refugees in our country is almost half the number of the Lebanese citizens and this raised the poverty rate to 30% and doubled the unemployment rate to 20%, and to more than 30% among the youth. It also depleted the public services and the infrastructure and increased fiscal deficit while the economic growth fell from 8% before the crisis to almost 1% at present.
I will give one example: The number of Syrian students in the Lebanese public schools reached 230 thousand compared to 200 thousand Lebanese students. Knowing that the dropout rate is almost 50% among the Syrian displaced and that the Lebanese public schools are working around the clock to absorb this pressure which is similar in hospitals, electricity, roads and all services and infrastructure."
The World Bank estimates the total loss suffered by the Lebanese GDP as a result of this crisis till the end of 2015 at more than $18 billion, and the figure today is approximately $25 billion," Hariri retorted.
"Our government has decided to confront this crisis and developed a unified vision based on upgrading the infrastructure and the public services to rehabilitate them after the pressure it has been subjected to and enable them to continue to absorb it. We launched this ambitious plan because our duty is to advance our economy, protect our country and provide job opportunities for the youth.
But we count on the international and Arab support to finance the investment program in the infrastructure and the public services. We know that our Arab brothers who always stood with Lebanon in good and bad times will be at the forefront in encouraging us and leading the international community to contribute with them to ensure the stability of our country and its capacity to be resilient in the face of the hurricanes in the region," Hariri noted.
"In the end, I thank Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and the government and people of Qatar for their continuous support of the rightful causes and for standing by Lebanon in good and difficult times. I also thank the organizers of this forum and all of you for giving me this opportunity," he concluded.
Source: National News Agency