5 April 2018 - Lebanon's donor countries, meeting in Paris, are ready to allocate a 10 billion dollar investment plan to lift the land of cedars, from a serious economic crisis aggravated by the war in Syria and from the refugee crisis.
The meeting (Cedre) scheduled today in the French capital is attended by 41 nations, along with delegates from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other leading economic, financial and humanitarian organizations.
French diplomatic sources say that economic support aims to create a "security wall" between Lebanon and regional "problems", at a time of "profound political uncertainty". Hence the choice to boost the coffers of the Arab country, tormented in recent years by a profound economic crises and mass immigration of Syrian refugees fleeing the war.
The aid plan provides for the total allocation of about 10.1 billion dollars, distributed over four years. The sum will reach 23 billion over the next 12 years. Loans at favourable rates and direct donations are provided in the package; the total sum exceeds seven billion dollars, a goal set by the Beirut government on the eve of the conference.
The Paris meeting comes about a month after the first general elections of the last decade, scheduled for May, after the parliament - elected in 2009 - prolonged its mandate three times, contravening constitutional provisions.
Analysts and experts stress that Lebanon urgently needs to reduce public spending, to avert bankruptcy. However, primary services such as public water, electricity and garbage management present serious difficulties and require large investments for an overall revival.
The goal, adds a French diplomat, is to allocate the money necessary for Lebanon "to provide services and infrastructure to the public", avoiding the intervention of third parties [the reference is to the Shiite movement of Hezbollah].
Saudi Arabia is present at the Paris conference while an Iranian delegate, the other great regional power that influences the life of the country, will be missing. Tehran, in fact, was not invited to the meeting unlike Riyadh welcomed with all honors.
Faced with funding, Beirut will have to take a series of measures to counter public debt (10 times higher than GDP); at the same time it will have to implement stricter measures in the fight against corruption, one of the country's endemic ills.