BEIRUT: The European Union Thursday launched a 2.8 million euro ($3.84 million) twinning project aimed at reorganizing the Lebanese Finance Ministry and developing its institutional capacity.
Finance Ministry Director General Alain Bifani, who represented Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil at the launch, emphasized the project’s importance, saying it draws on expertise from the finance and economy ministries of Italy and France.
“The twinning project launched today is the first of its kind in terms of budget implementation and it is different than previous ones because it adds the expertise of Italy and not only that of France particularly in the field of training and information technology,” he said.
Bifani cited the main objectives of the twinning project, which will be implemented over a period of 28 months. “This twinning project will contribute to developing a reform strategy for the management of public finance in addition to strengthening institutional capacity for macroeconomic analysis and forecasts,” he said.
Dubbed “Techniques, capacity building and reorganization of the Ministry of Finance in Lebanon,” the project was launched at the Grand Serail in the presence of the ambassadors of France and Italy in addition to representatives from the EU.
Bifani explained that the project aims at evaluating financial control according to international standards and developing budget preparation methodology, in addition to strengthening solvency management and public debt.
“Its objective is also to strengthen the institutional capacities of the different directorates concerned with the implementation of the budget,” he added.
For Diego Escalona Paturel, head of the cooperation section of the EU delegation to Lebanon representing head of the EU delegation Angelina Eichhorst, strengthening public finance management and enhancing budget procedures are essential in decreasing the debt-to-GDP ratio, which stood at 143 percent in 2013 compared to 139 percent in 2012.
Paturel underlined the need to move forward with structural reforms to ensure macroeconomic stabilization and growth. “The macroeconomic situation in Lebanon has regressed over the past years. Lebanon is facing huge economic and social challenges due to the political issues prevailing in the country and the negative impact of the Syrian crisis,” he said. “This should motivate us to establish reforms.”