BEIRUT: World Bank Group President Monday arrived in Lebanon where he is expected to hold talks with officials on the energy and education sectors as well as the impact of the Syrian crisis on the country's ailing economy.
Upon his arricval at the Rafik Hariri International Airport, Kim said his visit was the first by a World Bank president in 14 years.
He said the purpose of his trip was to discuss ways to meet the urgent needs of the country particularly in terms of reform in various sectors, encourage economic growth and plan long and short-term strategic plans.
Kim also noted that he would meet with officials from the Education Ministry to review the challenges and provide his view of the future in light of the so-called Arab Spring which he said represented an opportunity for advancement.
The World Bank is set to prepare a review of the Lebanese economy, its challenges and prospects for the future at the end of Kim's tour.
Economy Minister Alain Hakim who welcomed Kim to Lebanon at the airport said the visit was of utmost importance for Lebanon.
“There are two reasons for Kim’s visit: the first concerns the presence of Syrian refugees which has become a huge burden on Lebanon and the second is to draft a plan with the World Bank for the energy sector,” Hakim told reporters.
Before arriving to Lebanon, Kim warned that refugees in Lebanon and Jordan were putting extra strain on services such as water, electricity, waste disposal, primary education and health, while increasing competition for scarce jobs.
"The international community needs to step up its support to the Jordanian and Lebanese hosting communities," said Kim in the statement. "The people of these countries have demonstrated unprecedented generosity. They should not be left to shoulder this crisis alone."
"We estimated last summer that the impact of the crisis on Lebanon was $7.5 billion," Kim said late on Sunday in the Saudi city of Jeddah, which he visited in the first stop of a regional tour.
He said the conflict has had a "profound" impact on Lebanon and Jordan, which also hosts around 600,000 Syrian refugees.