The FINANCIAL — The World Bank Group (WBG) has rolled out a new six-year program for its engagement in Lebanon, underlining the need to support the country as it grapples with a myriad of political and socio-economic hardships largely linked to regional turmoil. The strategy broadly aims to recalibrate confidence of citizens in the state that has been deeply shaken by political instability, inadequate public services, shrinking economic opportunities and fallouts of the conflict in Syria.
The Country Partnership Framework (CPF), which spans the years 2017 to 2022, was endorsed by the Bank’s Board of Directors together with a separate CPF for Jordan – a country similarly under duress as a result of the conflict in Syria and the influx of refugees. The twin presentations highlighted the institution’s commitment to provide economic and social support to these two countries.
“The Lebanon program will address the country’s priorities through select, high impact investments and analytical inputs. It will be flexible to allow the World Bank Group the necessary agility to adapt to the fluid and unpredictable environment,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa.
The Lebanon CPF which was informed by a broad range of consultations with the government, the private sector and civil society is focused on: scaling up access to and quality of service delivery; and expanding economic opportunities and increasing human capital. Through these two focus areas, the WBG will help Lebanon mitigate the economic and social impact of the Syria crisis, safeguard the country’s development gains, and enhance the prospects for stability and development in the coming years, according to the World Bank.
“In a fragile and conflict-prone environment, the Lebanon CPF aims at mitigating the immediate impact of the Syria crisis while keeping a strong focus and robust engagement on the country’s medium- and long- term development challenges. The interventions identified in the CPF would foster inclusion and shared prosperity,” said Ferid Belhaj, Director of the World Bank’s Middle East Department. “It is particularly critical for the Bank and the international community to support Lebanon in guaranteeing peace and stability in an uncertain regional environment.”
In parallel, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) will continue to support private sector development in Lebanon to increase employment opportunities. “Private sector can play a key role in supporting Lebanon’s economy. Over the next six years we plan to support Lebanon’s private sector become more competitive and expand into other markets in the region and beyond,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “IFC will also continue to address climate change challenges with private sector solutions such as sustainable energy finance and green buildings. We will continue to work with microfinance institutions and the banking sector to increase access to finance to micro, small and medium enterprises with a focus on women entrepreneurs.”
The World Bank Group Board of Directors also approved today a US$55 million loan to Lebanon to reduce the pollution flowing into Lake Qaraoun, a pivitol water body in a country rich with rain and snow fall yet deseparately weak in the management of these resources. The project marks a first step in a larger effort estimated at US$250 million, according to the Government’s Business Plan for Combating Pollution of the Qaraoun Lake.
In cooperation with other regional and international development partners, the WBG is deploying concessional resources to help Lebanon respond to the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis through an exceptional $100million International Development Association (IDA) allocation and the recent establishment of the Concessional Financing Facility.