World Bank regional director Saroj Kumar Jha held talks on February 7th in Beirut with Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni. He stated that the World Bank is waiting to see the government's reform plan to decide how they would support Lebanon.
He emphasized that the World Bank is committed to helping Lebanon create better job opportunities and in funding the health, education, and electricity sectors.
“The Lebanese government should provide an ambitious reform program that begins with addressing financial and banking issues, in addition to infrastructure, especially the electricity sector. However, there are also other sectors that need immediate attention,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“According to the World Bank, the number of people below the poverty line has increased dramatically. So we are all waiting for the government's reform program and, accordingly, the World Bank will determine how it can fully support the Lebanese people,” Jha explained.
He added that his meeting with the minister was good and that he expects a ministerial statement to be finalized and voted on by the House of Representatives. He said he expects the statement to be strong and that it should include a plan of action that will help Lebanon overcome the economic and financial crisis.
“The World Bank is ready to support any ambitious program because this is in the interest of the Lebanese people and will directly assist those affected by the economic and financial crisis," he asserted.
He added that "Lebanon can overcome this crisis, but that requires strong political will and a time-bound action plan, and this is what the World Bank expects from this new government."
He also revealed that the World Bank has a $1.6 billion program designed for Lebanon to improve its infrastructure, create jobs, provide social protection, and develop the water sector.
"We have a wide program and all we ask from the government is a quick implementation of the program and linking it to a specific time frame,” he declared.