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28 Mar 2018

Hariri to seek $6 billion for infrastructure program 

He told an economic conference at Phoenicia Hotel that the money obtained from the conference would be spent in stages, depending on the importance of the projects approved by the donor countries and international organizations.

“We are going to the CEDRE conference to propose a program of investment spending and our vision for stability and job creation for the next 10 years,” Hariri said at the economic conference, in comments reported by the prime minister’s media office.

The government’s infrastructure program was presented at the Lebanon Investment in Infrastructure Conference, held on March 6 this year.

Hariri added that the objective of the CEDRE conference was being held to ensure sustainable growth and development in Lebanon over the next 10 years.

“There is serious intent from the international community to assist Lebanon, but we need to help ourselves first,” Hariri said, noting that the conference aims to secure financing for five years only.

The prime minister also underlined the importance of private sector participation in the conference.

The government’s program needs a total of $10 billion and comprises multiple projects, up to $4 billion of which could be funded through public-private partnerships to lessen the burden on the state.

Hariri said sustainable economic development for Lebanon – the title of Tuesday’s conference – is “the fundamental issue in our country today. All of us ought to stop thinking one year at a time and start thinking for the next 10 and 15 years to come.”

The vision the government will present at the Paris conference will consist of four phases, with the first being a capital investment plan.

“We aspire to have infrastructure that can meet our future needs and keep up with the ambitions of the private sector,” the statement from Hariri’s office said.

Hariri said the second step would be to undertake public finance reforms. Passing Lebanon’s first budget in 12 years for 2017 and preparing the 2018 budget rapidly were part of this phase.

“During the discussion for the 2018 budget, [Cabinet] focused on reducing public spending in order to control the fiscal deficit and rising public debt,” he said.

“But we also wanted to balance that need while giving the economic sectors incentives and easing the tax burden on the private sector and the Lebanese people.”Structural and sectoral reforms are also needed as they will modernize public administrations and increase the number of services provided by the state, Hariri said.

This “will also facilitate the work of the private sector, especially if we update and pass related laws,” he added.

Lastly, the government needs to develop a clear and comprehensive strategy for all Lebanese sectors. “We asked [international consulting group] McKinsey & Company to develop a detailed study of the sectors and identify their strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

For his part, Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh expressed hope that the CEDRE conference would bring in more investment from abroad, which would reflect positively on growth, create more jobs and improve the balance of payments.

Salameh also highlighted the recent positive assessments of international rating agencies and investment banks.

“Recently, S&P and Fitch said the level of risk of the Lebanese banks is considered low. We should also note that Moody’s had a positive outlook of Lebanon after BDL issued a circular on the Liquidity Coverage Ratio,” Salameh said.

He also commented on the government’s efforts to pass the 2018 budget. “The government’s keenness to endorse the 2018 budget and to keep the fiscal deficit figures close to the 2017 budget will boost confidence,” Salameh said.

He added that these steps were in line with the recommendations of International Monetary Fund to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio.

The governor reiterated that BDL would continue to beef up its foreign currency reserves to boost confidence in the Lebanese national currency.

 

 

$6bn needed from CEDRE conference: Hariri

 

 

 

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Tuesday that Lebanon’s goal going into the upcoming CEDRE conference would be to secure $6 billion to finance various projects for the next five years

"We are going to the CEDRE conference to propose a program of investment spending, and our vision for stability and job creation for the next ten years," Hariri said at the Business and Financial Forum, in comments reported by the prime minister’s media office.

"There is serious intent from the international community to assist Lebanon, but we need to help ourselves first," Hariri said, noting that the objective of CEDRE was to secure financing for five years only.

The program needs a total of $10 billion and comprises multiple projects, some of which could be implemented through public-private partnerships to lessen the financial burden on the state. "Our goal is to ensure that the remaining $6 billion is funded by the CEDRE conference, through easy credit facilities, with interest not exceeding 1.5 percent and a grace period of ten years," Hariri told attendees at the Business and Financial Forum.

Speaking from a conference – organized in cooperation with the Central Bank – entitled Sustainable Economic Development for Lebanon, Hariri said that this issue was “a central theme in our country," adding, "All of us are required to stop using the year-by-year approach and start thinking about the next 10 or 15 years."

The government's vision set to be presented at CEDRE is comprised of four phases.

The initial phase is the capital investment plan. “We aspire to have infrastructure that can meet our future needs and keep up with the ambitions of the private sector," the statement from Hariri’s office stated.

The infrastructure program was presented at the Lebanon Investment in Infrastructure Conference, held on March 6 of this year.

Hariri said the second step would be to undertake reforms in public finances. Passing the 2017 budget after 12 years and preparing the 2018 budget rapidly were part of this phase. "During the discussion for the 2018 budget, [Cabinet] focused on reducing public spending in order to control the fiscal deficit and rising public debt," he said.

"But we also wanted to balance that need while giving the economic sectors incentives, and easing the tax burden on the private sector and the Lebanese people."

Structural and sectorial reforms are also needed as they will modernize public administrations, and increase the number of services provided by the state, Hariri said. "It will also facilitate the work of the private sector, especially if we update and pass related laws.”

Lastly, the government needs to develop a clear and comprehensive strategy for all Lebanese sectors. "We asked [International consulting group] McKinsey & Company to develop a detailed study of the sectors and identify their strengths and weaknesses," he said.

The CEDRE conference, during which Hariri will present this program, is set to be held April 6 in Paris and aims to bolster the country’s ailing economy and infrastructure.

Later Tuesday, Hariri met with France's representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pierre Duquesne, at the Grand Serail, with the two discussing preparations for CEDRE.

 

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