Following the potential finding and discovery of oil and gas in Lebanon, the country has taken several steps to establish an adequate institutional and legal framework that would allow effective exploration and management of resources. Fighting corruption and ensuring the emerging petroleum sector is governed in a transparent and accountable manner remain major challenges.
Given Lebanon’s dismal track record in countering corruption and its chronically gridlocked political process, the risks of corruption in the country’s nascent petroleum sector are significant. Over the last 8 years, successive Lebanese governments took many important decisions that reflect Lebanon’s intention to strengthen transparency in the nascent petroleum industry in Lebanon.
Lebanese parliament adopted on September 2020 the low #189, the Financial Disclosure and the Punishment of Illicit Enrichment Law; also the parliament Law #175/2020, Combatting Corruption in the Public Sector and the Establishment of the National Anti-corruption Commission (NACC), but the entity that needs partial election of its members has not yet been established due to the lockdown in the country.
Also, they passed a legislation in 2016 on the access to information “Right to Access To Information Law” in Lebanon, but its implementation remains problematic and subject to many challenges. Enhancing the public’s access to information is a pillar of open government reforms; this requires the government to move from political to public communication, and to utilize effective channels, including social media and direct discussions and debates to engage with stakeholders on the implementation and on key reforms and policies.
Corruption in the oil and gas sector can occur at several stages from the licensing process to exploration and production; It is difficult to confront against transparency, particularly since it promotes good governance in the long run, especially in countries with a low-grade record in this area and when the “anti-corruption” is a nationwide demand and a necessity for the preservation and development of the country. However, it would be guileless to believe that the current measures and the general law on transparency specifically targeting the oil and gas sector will eliminate corruption and political abuse risks in a country fully corrupted like Lebanon.
Maybe the international commitments on Oil and Gas sector will push the Lebanese officials to have a successful model at least in one of his sectors and can be the cause of adoption of strategic planning implementation at the level of the State as well as at every government agency.
New laws, many measures but same old practices with corrupt environment ?
Lebanon passes anti-corruption laws, but questions persist over their efficacy and implementation!
In conclusion, we would like to repeat that proper implementing the “Oil and Gas Laws and decrees”, the “Access to Information Laws” and the “Financial Disclosure and the Punishment of Illicit Enrichment Law” need the activation of “National Anti-corruption Commission” by the Lebanese Cabinet and through this decision we can send a clear signal about the commitment of the Lebanese public institutions to transparency and good governance adaptation and implementation.