Lebanon News

No aid for Lebanon without reform: report

A general view of Beirut, Aug. 22, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Representatives from countries and international institutions are set to attend a meeting next week in Paris on support for Lebanon. However, according to a report released Saturday, they will remain firm that no aid will be sent to Beirut before the country implements reforms that it has previously committed to.

“If the Lebanese think that during next Wednesday’s meeting, participants will send financial support to [the country], they are seriously mistaken,” the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat cited “informed sources” as saying.

A European official told Reuters on Friday that the meeting will be held Dec. 11. It is set to include the International Support Group for Lebanon, as well as a delegation from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The ISG brings together the United Nations, the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with the European Union and the Arab League.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to send additional delegations.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, there will be two sessions and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will make the opening speech, while his ministry’s secretary-general will lead the discussions.

The newspaper reported that the morning session will not be attended by the Lebanese delegation, but the afternoon session will.

A closing statement is also expected and, according to the sources, the ISG “plans to call on Lebanese officials to swiftly form a new government in light of the difficult social, economic and financial situation.” However, Asharq Al-Awsat stated that the ISG would “not tackle in detail the shape of the next [Lebanese] cabinet, which is a Lebanese matter.”

However, the ISG is expected to ask Lebanese officials to include representatives of the anti-government protests in the next government, sources told the daily.

Another call from the ISG will be for Lebanon to “respect” the reforms it committed to during the CEDRE conference held by Paris in 2018.

International donors pledged over $11 billion in grants and soft loans to shore up the country’s ailing economy and finance key infrastructure projects. However, the release of the aid was contingent on the Lebanese government implementing a string of structural, fiscal and economic changes.

“According to the same sources, participants would reiterate that there will not be any release of aid if Lebanon does not respect the pledged reforms,” Asharq Al-Awsat reported. “[Sources] said Lebanese officials should stop making promises and start working ... to improve the country’s dire economic situation.”

 

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