World Bank approves cash assistance to crisis-struck Lebanon

SourceArab News
SectorFinancial Services

The World Bank approved a $246 million loan to Lebanon to provide emergency cash assistance to nearly 800,000 Lebanese reeling under the country’s compounded economic and health crises. The World Bank said in a statement late Tuesday the loan would also support the development of a national social safety net in Lebanon, which was struggling with a financial crisis before the pandemic struck, driving nearly half the population of the small country of 6 million into poverty. Over 1 million refugees from Syria live in Lebanon. The economic crisis has led to a projected 19.2 percent decline in gross domestic product, triple-digit inflation and is pushing 1.7 million people below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of the population is expected to fall into extreme poverty. International donors have been dispensing direct humanitarian assistance to Lebanon. But in the absence of major structural reforms, talks with the International Monetary Fund that began last summer have failed to produce a rescue package for the cash-strapped government. The deepening crisis has depleted foreign reserves in the import-dependent country and sent the local currency tumbling, losing nearly 80 percent of its value before the dollar.

The government is discussing ways to lift subsidies from more...