BEIRUT: The National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) hosted a seminar Friday, in which panelists both critiqued and offered solutions for an industrial sector plagued by 35 percent youth unemployment rates.
The “Seminar on Innovation in Lebanon’s Industrial Sector” was based off a 2012/3 survey taken by the World Bank that sampled 478 Lebanese enterprises, most of which were small or medium sized, and aimed to provide the sector with ways to drive innovation and creativity.
“Innovation can also find solutions to address specific needs for the poor,” said Randa Akeel of the World Bank, addressing a crowd of mostly academics. According to Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan, 75 representatives of Lebanon’s industry sector were invited to the seminar but few, if any, were in attendance.
The minister launched a scathing attack on the Lebanese state at the event, holding it responsible for many of the woes and obstacles the industrial sector faces today.
“Are the industrialists responsible for providing their own cheap electricity? No, the state should be responsible,” Hajj Hassan said.
“The true obstacles are the obstacles to progress that live in the policies of the Lebanese state,” he added.
Hajj Hassan highlighted the fact that Lebanon imports $19 billion worth of products each year but only exports $4 billion, leaving the country with an annual deficit budget of $15 billion. Hajj Hassan said that these policies enacted by the Lebanese government also lead to the so-called 'brain drain' or the mass emigration of the country’s talent and youth seeking employment opportunities abroad. The survey shows that 35 percent of Lebanon’s youth are currently beleaguered by unemployment.