World Bank President James Wolfensohn urged the Lebanese people to achieve true national reconciliation as a key condition for shoring up the deteriorating economy, and called on the government to reduce borrowing in order to check the escalating public debt.
He said Cabinet measures such as the open skies policy and cutting down custom duties are positive but not sufficient moves to restore investors’ confidence in Lebanon.
Wolfensohn said Lebanon needs a “comprehensive program” to stimulate growth and address longstanding economic ills, including the spiraling debt. He added that the World Bank was ready to help Lebanon in privatizing public utilities, urging to give priority to money-losing state assets in order to reduce the public debt.
In parallel, the Hariri government reportedly secured a promise from Wolfensohn to reschedule some $400 million in loans previously allocated by the World Bank to fund development projects in Lebanon and which were due to expire in March.
Since the end of the 1975-1990 war, Lebanon has received around $750 million in World Bank loans, of which some $400 million remain undisbursed due to various bureaucratic and parliamentary delays in endorsing projects for which the amounts were earmarked. — (Lebanon Invest )
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )