April 19, 2017

Lebanon seeks up to $12 billion in infrastructure investment

“We estimate that we need around $1.5 billion in investments in infrastructure each year. The Council of Development and Reconstruction is working on a master plan for the needs of Lebanon and we will send this report to the international community, World Bank and other international banks to obtain long-term loans with a 1.4% interest only,” Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser on Syrian refugees, Nadim Munla, told The Daily Star.

Representatives from 70 national delegations, major donors and humanitarian and development organizations met in Brussels recently to raise funds for countries hosting Syrian refugees.

International donors made a “collective pledge of $6 billion for this year alone,” EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said during the conference.

The international community and organizations, Munla said, created a mechanism called the Global Concessional Financing Facility aimed to provide long-term concessional loans to the host communities for mainly infrastructure projects.

Lebanon has repeatedly called on the US, the European Union and Arab states to help manage the high numbers of Syrian refugees that the country’s hosts currently, amounting to around 1.5 million. Officials have stressed that the current infrastructure such as highways, power plants and water facilities weren’t sufficient to handle the additional number.

Munla said Lebanon hopes to borrow for the next 40 years at 1.4% interest – equivalent to the borrowing conditions of poorest countries in the world.

He said this soft loan will have very little impact on Lebanon’s public debt, as neither the government nor the public sector has the means to finance huge infrastructure projects. He also added that every $1 billion investment can create 50,000 jobs per year, adding that unemployment has reached 30% among the youth, 20% for the whole population.