Paralyzed Lebanon risks losing millions in aid

Syrian children gather outside their tents at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, Bekaa valley, Lebanon, in this Jan. 6, 2015 photo.

Syrian children gather outside their tents at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, Bekaa valley, Lebanon, in this Jan. 6, 2015 photo.


Lebanon’s political stalemate has not only left uncollected garbage piling up in the streets, but now risks losing millions in international loans for key development projects because of a paralyzed Parliament.

To secure the funds, Lebanon’s parliament is required to approve loan deals or pass legislation on which the money is conditioned.

But the legislature, deeply divided over issues ranging from minor domestic disagreements to the conflict in neighboring Syria, has not met since May 2014. The World Bank warns that Lebanon could lose half a portfolio worth $1.1 billion (1 billion euros) if Parliament fails to ratify loan agreements before Dec. 31.

Around half that money is for the Bisri Dam project in southern Lebanon, which is intended to provide 1.6 million people with water for drinking and irrigation.

Legislative inaction has already led France to cancel 46.5 million euros for building schools and 70 million euros for the electricity sector, in a country where chronic power outages continue 25 years after the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Another 70 million euros from France for a water purification project is also on the line because parliament has not ratified a water code that is a condition for the money. The World Bank has already annulled around $40 million in funds to the country.

“The institutional gridlock has led us to cancel a number of important projects for the country’s economic development,” World Bank regional director Ferid Belhaj told AFP.


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