Tuesday, 11 December, 2018


French govt to provide nearly $700mn in loans, grants to support Lebanon

Christian militia fighters firing a bazooka near Damascus Street Christian militia fighters firing a bazooka near Damascus Street
Patty Aguilar | 07 April, 2018, 00:11

The Middle Eastern country also needs worldwide support for its investment plan and to carry out reforms to tackle corruption and improve fiscal governance, the conference heard.

Hosting a donor meeting here, Le Drian said that France vowed "a substantial effort of 400 million euros in concessional loans and 150 million in grants".

Lebanon's growth has plummeted due to political instability, with the effect compounded by the Syrian conflict which has sent a million refugees across the border - equivalent to a quarter of the Lebanese population before the conflict.

Lebanon won pledges of grants and loans exceeding $10 billion on Friday at a Paris conference aimed at rallying worldwide support for an investment program to boost its economy, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil told Reuters.

"In a Middle East shaken by crises, wounded by civil wars, Lebanon remains the model of pluralism, tolerance and openness which we need", he said.

Ministers and investors from around the world on Friday met in the French capital to raise billions of dollars in aid and development loans to finance Lebanon's economy and infrastructure, weakened by years of institutional and regional crisis. "But Lebanon is not an island".

The office of French President Emmanuel Macron, who will close the conference, said donors were set to approve an investment plan that would notably pour cash into Lebanon's creaking infrastructure.

They are targeting to collect a fund worth 10 billion US dollars over four years.

Hariri later rescinded his resignation after mediation by France and Egypt.

The Paris conference comes as Lebanon gears up for its first general elections in nearly a decade in May, after parliament renewed its own mandate three times since 2009.

The Lebanese parliament last week passed a 2018 budget that projects a narrower deficit than in 2017.

The pledges included $4 billion in World Bank loans, 1.1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the renewal of a previously pledged $1 billion credit line from Saudi Arabia, Lebanese officials said.

Riyadh said it had carried out to "a total evaluation of its relations with the Lebanese republic" in light of positions taken by Hezbollah in Syria.

"At a time when the Levant probably lives one of the worst moments of its history.it's more important than ever to preserve the most precious asset: a peaceful, diverse and harmonious Lebanon", Macron said.

Lebanon will for its part sign up to a string of reforms including tougher measures to fight corruption as well as tighter regulation of the transport and telecoms sectors.

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