At a conference in Paris, international donors pledged $11 billion in grants and loans to help debt ridden Lebanon but with strict measures to ensure the money is well spent by Lebanon, a country that is hit hard by the Syrian war.
Emmanuel Macron, the President of France commended the exceptional mobilization of the international community for Lebanon as crucial for constructing the conditions for a sustainable peace in the Middle East.
Macron said at a time when the Levant is possibly going through one of the worst moments of its history, it is more significant than ever to reserve the most valuable asset, which is a peaceful, harmonious and diverse Lebanon.
France’s ambassador to Lebanon said on Twitter that in overall, donors committed $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in gifts.
Saad Hariri, the Prime Minister of Lebanon pointed out his country’s unattractive situation, saying his country’s stability is at risk.
He said that it is not only the stability of the country, this is the region’s stability and by extension the entire world. Hariri warned that a breakdown in Lebanon could reflect throughout the Middle East and Europe.
Uncertainties of economic breakdown in the Middle Eastern country are escalating ahead of the parliamentary election next month, the first in 9 years.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country would offer 400 million Euros to Lebanon in loans below market rates and would give a further 150 million Euros as gift.
The EU also pledged 150 million Euros in loans.
French officials said that the meeting was not a classic donors’ conference but was meant to seek investments around water and energy, infrastructure as well as mobilization for the private sector, and much needed structural reforms.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri highlighted the effect of 7 years of war in Syria, saying growth in the country has dropped from 8% to barely 1%.
The war in Syria has hindered land exports through Iraq, Jordan, and oil rich Gulf Arab countries. Lebanon is also hosting 1.2 million or a quarter of its population.
The Lebanese Parliament last week approved a budget with a fiscal deficit of $4.8 billion, its 2nd since 2005. Lebanon’s debt at the end of 2017 stood at $80 billion.