The Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) has launched the Institute of Directors (IOD) in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE).
The commencement of the conference was held at Movenpick hotel and resort - Beirut with the participation of the IOD chairman – LTA’s vice chairman Mr. Fadi Saab, LTA’s chairman Mr. Gerard Zovighian, H.E minister of state Mr. Jean Ogassapian, the representative of H.E minister of interiors and municipalities Mr. Ziad Baroud Dr. Makram Oueiss, and LTA’s managing director Mr. Yahya Hakim.
Mr. Saab in his speech, stressed to the necessity of re-enforcing the individual and collective responsibilities of citizens in fighting against corruption and seeking democracy as a way of life. “The present social developments regionally and internationally, with the resultant drastic implications on the political and economic scenes, showed that the civil society is moving away from being just a sterile think-tank encouraging good governance, and NGO’s are no longer feeble advocacy/lobbying groups pressuring for needed reforms; instead they are increasingly becoming leaders in promoting ethics, transparency, accountability and the rule of law” Saab Said.
The IOD chairman stated that “the voice of the people is resoundingly loud and clear in the face of politicians who are repeating meaningless slogans and empty promises. However, although the wind of change is fast sweeping the region, the “the power of will” alone is not enough without the presence of proper rules and regulations, policies and procedures, codes of conduct and other specific practical and effective tools.”
Saab concluded: “I would like to invite you all to become members of the IOD. Individual members will receive discounts on our training courses and privileged access to all our events. Corporate Membership is also available as Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels benefiting from even more advantages such as CG audits at no charge, complementary attendance of training courses, discounts on a variety of services, and privileged access to our regional and international network of experts”.
Mr. Zovighian in his turn focused on the deficit of good governance in our public sector stating that “this deficit should not hold us back from addressing good governance in our private sector and our individual companies. It is for this reason that the mission and objectives of this institute reflect perfectly the mission of Transparency International and LTA – which is promoting good governance with all its aspects (transparency, accountability, responsibility, ethics, and fairness)”.
LTA’s chairman ended his speech by stating:: “by creating the IOD, we are investing in all the expertise and toolkits we have developed over the past years with our partners, so as to enable Lebanese actors in the public and private sectors to start practicing the best methods of governance”.
Dr.Makram Oueiss pointed out that the principle of accountability in Lebanon has become a “point of view”, and the effectiveness of politicians’ messages is being measured by their tone of voice and their bank accounts.
Dr. Oueiss completed "We cannot eliminate corruption in the public sector without fortifying our private sector. What future government should put on its agenda is strategies to simplify transactions and facilitate the work of private companies and institutions”. On the other hand “the parliament should vote on the necessary legislations that facilitate the access to information in public administrations and that guarantees transparency”.
He concluded asking: “is it too difficult in a country like Lebanon, while many Lebanese are occupying various high ranked positions all around the world, to choose a few hundred of the elite to develop and strengthen its economy and to activate its control bodies?”
Minister Ogassapian in his turn confirmed that the launch of the IOD is an important step that leads advanced programs in developed countries, provides good management and development, and gives human capacity building special attention.
He also pointed out that this development is an essential pattern in establishing the concept of the State, and in maintaining comprehensive and sustainable development in the public and private sectors in line with the market needs. Ogassapian stated that the "administration is the link between the citizen and the state, and should be protected from the negative effects of routine and corruption.” He concluded that “the IOD initiative is required, and it reflects the vitality that characterizes the private sector in Lebanon.”
The conference was followed by two sessions:
1- The importance of Corporate Governance, transparency, and accountability
2- The Responsibility of the Board of Directors towards corporate stakeholders
The sessions were presented by the IOD’s executive director Badri El Meouchi and moderated by the IOD’s vice chairman Yasser Akkaoui and IOD’s board member Mrs. Nada AbdelSater AbuSamra.
The participants discussed the benefits of adopting corporate governance principles by companies, their shareholders, and by the national economy. Those principles can help them improving access to capital and financial markets; survive in an increasingly competitive environment through mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, and risk reduction through asset diversification; provide an exit policy and ensure a smooth inter-generational transfer of wealth and family assets, as well as reducing the chances of “conflict of interest” to arise. Furthermore, adopting good CG practices leads to a better system of internal control, thus leading to a greater accountability and better profit margins.
Moreover, the participants stressed on the role of board members in ensuring that the company is well governed, i.e. they: ensure real commitment—rather than window dressing; ensure that good board governance is in place; strengthen the control environment; oversee disclosure and communications; and protect (minority) shareholders’ interests.
The IOD was created as an initiative of LTA, through the devotion of the LCGTF that has over the past several years worked closely with local companies as well as international partners - such as CIPE, the IFC, and the OECD. Initially, the IOD services will include Corporate Governance audits and assessments, Corporate Governance Training Courses, and General Research on the subject of Corporate Governance. Over time, the Institute will introduce new services; such as specific market research and training courses covering a variety of subjects relevant to current and future directors. The institute will also continue to work on developing CG guidelines, codes, and toolkits for different types of companies and institutions.
Note to editors:
Mr. Mohamad Choucair, President, Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Beirut, Dr. Makram Sader, Secretary General, Association of Banks of Lebanon, Dr. Fouad Zmokhol, President, Lebanese Businessmen Association, Mr. Ziad Hayek, Secretary General, Higher Council of Privatization, Mrs. Mona Akl, Secretary General, Butec, Mrs. Mona Bou-Azza Bawarshi, President and CEO of Gezairi Transport,Mr. Joe Ashkar, Board member of Sabis International.
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