McKinsey has a plan for Lebanon’s economy

The global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has set out its vision for Lebanon’s economy, with recommendations to become a provider of medicinal cannabis.

Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury said implementing the thrust of the 1,000-page report will be crucial if Lebanon, the world’s third-most indebted nation, wants the international community to start releasing $11 billion in grants from the CEDRE soft loans pledged in April.

The Quick Wins of the McKinsey report proposes setting up a construction zone for prefabricated housing that can be used in the rebuilding Syria and Iraq, boosting tourism and opening new markets for Lebanese crops: avocados — and cannabis.

Cannabis is cultivated clandestinely in the eastern Bekaa Valley, despite regular government eradication campaigns. Lebanon could legalize cultivation and export the drug for medicinal treatments.

The quality we have is one of the best in the world,” Minister Raed Khoury said “and can become a one-billion-dollar industry”.

The government wants to boost real GDP growth to 6 percent within three years of reforms being implemented, halve unemployment in five to seven years, and raise the contribution of the productive sector from 14 percent of GDP to 25 percent by 2023.

Lebanon’s history of chaotic administration, its unstable region and vested interests that could derail anti-corruption initiatives pose challenges.

But without change, Lebanon will have major economic turmoil.