Millions pledged in support of Lebanese economy

Investment summit in Paris is attended by 41 countries, international organizations and private sector representatives

Millions pledged in support of Lebanese economy

World Bulletin / News Desk

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.

The investment summit, called the Economic Conference for Development through Reforms and with Business (CEDRE), is attended by 41 countries, several international organizations and private sector representatives.

Speaking at the opening speech of the summit, Lebanon's prime minister, Saad Hariri, said his "little country" was " facing enormous political, economic and security challenges and these challenges are exacerbated by the war in Syria and the crisis of displaced Syrians in Lebanon."

"It is not the stability of Lebanon alone. This is the stability of the region and, therefore, of our world," Hariri said.

France was the first country to make a bid with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announcing that Europe's second largest economy would provide 400 million euros ($489.3 million) in loans below market rates and would donate another 150 million euros ($183.5 million).

"In a Middle East shaken by crises and battered by civil wars, Lebanon remains a model of pluralism, tolerance and openness that we need," Le Drian said. "But Lebanon is not an island."

"Today, we will take concrete and substantial measures. Again, these are reciprocal commitments: international support must accompany the reforms that the prime minister will lay out before you."

Later on Friday, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, Hariri is set to outline his country's medium-term investment strategy which is focusing on improving roads, power generation and public transport.

With one of the highest levels of state debt in the world, Lebanon is seeking about $16 billion in concessional loans and grants to finance development projects over the next five years.

The Lebanese parliament last week adopted a 2018 government budget, projecting a deficit of $4.8 billion -- more than double the deficit in 2011, when Syria's war started.

Paris's meeting is one of a series of three to secure international support for the recovery of Lebanon's economy.

The Mediterranean country of just over 6 million inhabitants, received $550 million in pledged loans from 40 countries to boost its army and security sector at the Rome II conference, which took place on March 15.

A third conference, which is scheduled for later this spring in Brussels, will focus on the country's program to host a million Syrian refugees.

Last Mod: 07 Nisan 2018, 09:28
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