BEIRUT: Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh sought over the weekend to secure long-term financing for Lebanon’s private sector on the sidelines of meetings in Washington with World Bank and IMF officials. Salameh was part of an official Lebanese delegation that participated in the annual meeting of World Bank and IMF officials with finance ministers and central bankers from around the globe in a bid to secure donor aid to help ease the fiscal burden of a large influx of Syrian refugees to Lebanon.
“He [Salameh] also met with officials of the European Investment Bank in a bid to secure long-term funding for the private sector,” a statement released by the Central Bank said.
The World Bank had estimated in a report released last month the total fiscal impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon at $2.6 billion and said some $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion would be needed for stabilization.
Lebanon is facing an increasing number of challenges as the number of refugees grows, Salameh said, highlighting the drop in tourist numbers and the slowdown in GDP growth as major concerns.
The World Bank report said the Syrian conflict was cutting Lebanon’s real GDP growth by 2.9 percentage points each year and highlighted that the number of refugees could swell to 1.3 million by the end of 2013.
In a bid to weather the negative repercussions of the Syrian crisis, Salameh said the Central Bank was working on stimulating local consumption while maintaining an acceptable inflation rate
On Saturday, Salameh was officially given the Euromoney “Best Central Bank Governor in the Middle East for 2013” award.
Salameh’s role in softening the impact of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon and the implementation a new monetary stimulus to prop up the economy is believed to be among the major reasons behind his nomination for the award.