Volatile Middle East sees World Bank offer assistance to Lebanon
The World Bank said it is willing to provide Lebanon with financial and technical assistance to help offset the impact the volatile situation in the region could have on the country’s economy. This strong message of support came from the Bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, Inger Andersen, as she wrapped up a two-day official visit to Beirut Thursday.
“Lebanon is going through difficult times, some of this driven by factors beyond its control,” Andersen said.
“In all my meetings with senior officials, with the private sector and with representatives of civil society, we discussed these multiple challenges but we also talked about opportunities in Lebanon which can be exploited to spur growth and create inclusive job opportunities,” Andersen said.
Andersen was accompanied by Ferid Belhaj, who assumed his post as Country Director for Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iran and Iraq earlier this week.
Belhaj’s predecessor, Hedi Larbi, was also part of the delegation.
The team met Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi and Energy Minister Gebran Bassil.
The delegation heard from key private sector actors and civil society representatives about the difficulties they are facing, especially how inadequate economic infrastructure services are impeding growth.
“Naturally, I took this opportunity to thank the Lebanese authorities for their cooperation and excellent relationships we had during the four years I spent in Lebanon,” Larbi said.
“We discussed with government officials the development challenges Lebanon is facing and how the Bank can further help Lebanon address the priority structural and fiscal reforms to gradually restore fiscal stability and put the country on a more sustainable and inclusive growth path,” the senior World Bank official added.
“This visit and the time afforded us by the many officials and citizens we have met, has been a timely reintroduction for me to Lebanon,” Belhaj said.
“I realize I come to this post at a particularly challenging time but this multiplies the World Bank’s energy to work in partnership to mobilize the resources needed to achieve Lebanon’s social and economic objectives,” he stressed.
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