World Bank has granted “$400 million” and “soft loans to Lebanon in order to support the latter in the creation of “thousands of jobs”. World Bank’s press release stated the approval of “a new $400 million project”, titled “Creating Economic Opportunities in Support of the Lebanon National Jobs Program”, to help Lebanon in its quest of expanding “employment opportunities” throughout the country.
Lebanon’s employment took a beating post the Syrian refugees flooded into the country while Lebanon’s recent low economic growth trend also needs to be factored in. According to the statement which informed the new project’s approval from the board of directors of the bank: “The financial package is expected to create 52,000 permanent jobs and up to 12,000 short-term employment opportunities. The program will enhance economic opportunities for vulnerable groups, specifically young men and women. The package comprises a $70 million grant from the Global Concessional Financial Facility, and $330 million soft loan. The nongrant portion carries an interest rate of 1.71 percent and will be repayable over 22 years, including a six-year grace period. To strengthen project effectiveness and value for money, the disbursement of funds is directly linked to the achievement of a set of targeted results established in consultation with the government”.
Lebanon’s government is receiving support from World Bank in its struggle to reverse the negative refugee influx impact. Moreover, the official of Lebanon expressed their complains towards the economic blow created by the Syrian refugee influx, as the latter compete with the local workforce. In the words of the Regional Director of World Bank for the Mashreq region, Saroj Kumar Jha: “Lebanon is striving to cope with the economic and social impact of the Syria crisis and stimulate inclusive growth that benefits everyone.
“This can only be achieved through the creation of a favorable business environment for the private sector to grow, create jobs and invest in Lebanon’s rich human capital. This is exactly what this project aims to do”.
Furthermore, World Bank reported that the above mentioned project will provide “economic opportunities”, mainly in “disadvantaged regions”. Similarly, local at Lebanon will find jobs and Syrian refugees will be given temporary employment. While, the World Bank, Mashreq region’s programme leader and the project’s “co-team leader, Peter Mousley added: “The project supports the government’s own reform drive to stimulate a competitive business climate. This includes support to the development of PPPs [Public-Private Partnerships] in key infrastructure sectors, where increased private sector financing and expertise is essential to the delivery of better quality and more sustainably funded public services”.
“Another project priority is to support government initiatives to foster the competitiveness of SMEs [Small and Medium Enterprises] through the modernization of relevant services such as customs, which will help exporters, financial sector development and new products that will increase access to finance for SMEs and start-up entrepreneurs. Other initiatives include the development of the Special Economic Zone in Tripoli and the expansion of broadband internet services to rural areas. These will provide new market opportunities for businesses in these regions.”
Moreover, the statement issued by World Bank also informed that the above mentioned project fell in line with “the Vision for Reform and Development”, which was presented by the Government during the “CEDRE investors conference” that took place in Paris on April 6, 2018, whereby it claiming that creating job would be the key solution to address the “overarching objective” of driving economic growth. Another “co-team leader of the project” as well as the Human Development Programme Leader at World Bank, Haneen Sayed said: “This program, which also includes skills development and other market entry support for Lebanese job seekers, is expected to double the number of permanent jobs created per year for Lebanese youth and women compared to the number of jobs created annually prior to the Syrian conflict”.