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Speeches & Transcripts April 6, 2018

Remarks by World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva at the CEDRE conference

Excellency President Macron
Excellency Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Excellencies: Minister Le Drian and Minister Le Maire
Development Partners and Esteemed Participants

Good Afternoon,

It is an honor to be here today. Our long-standing partnership with Lebanon dates back to the early 1950s. We have been and will remain committed to helping the country and its people.

When Prime Minister Hariri and I met in Washington last year, he asked for the World Bank Group support for the Capital Investment Plan. I am glad that we are discussing the plan and our strategic assessment today.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank President Macron and his team for their strong leadership and commitment to Lebanon. Lebanon’s stability and economic growth are critical not only for Lebanon, but also for the Middle East and for the world at large.

Lebanon has been providing a global public service hosting refugees at a high cost to its public finances, infrastructure and communities. We owe the Lebanese people a debt of gratitude for their generosity in opening up their homes, their schools, their hospitals in hosting refugees, and in particular the 1.5 million Syrians who have arrived in the country pushed out by a devastating war. The international community has been supporting both the Lebanese communities and the refugees but with the conflict in Syria still going on we need to do more.

I am very honored to represent the World Bank at this conference for Lebanon.  It is a cause close to our hearts.  Lebanon has done its duty to the world; today it is time for the world to do its duty to Lebanon.

The aim of today’s conference which brings together governments, private sector and international organizations, is to make the economy more vibrant and to create more jobs, especially for the Lebanese youth.

The investment plan is important, relevant, and much-needed to jumpstart the economy and create new jobs. We remain very committed to working with the Government of Lebanon and its partners for the successful implementation of the plan in collaboration with civil society, the private sector, and the Parliament.

In the past five years, the Bank has committed around $3 billion in energy, transport, health and education and IFC, our private sector arm, has an active portfolio of $700 million. We also have eased the burden of refugees flows. For example, with our support some 150,000 poor Lebanese and Syrian refugees have gained access to healthcare services; 250,000 Syrian refugee children are now in school.

We will strive to mobilize substantial financial support for Lebanon in the years to come. We aim to provide at least $500 million per year for Lebanon’s capital investment plan from IBRD resources and will make every effort to use our funds to leverage private sector financing. IFC and MIGA will also scale up support for private sector financing of the capital investment plan for around $500 million over the next 5 years. And we will continue to raise at least $200 million per year in concessional financing for host communities and refugees. That would amount to $4 billion from the World Bank Group over the next five years.

For Lebanon, I want to remind everyone that the Capital Investment Plan can only be sustainable if it is accompanied by strong reforms. The private sector must play a key role in this process and the Government must help to bring to them to the table. This includes: (i) energy sector reform: (ii) passing a new procurement law; (iii) accelerating customs and import/export flows by passing a uniform customs strategy; (iv) continuing to invest in other critical services and (v) measures for transparency and accountability.

I would like to thank all the partners who are contributing to the Global Concessional Financing Facility. Continued support in providing grant resources will allow us to provide financing on concessional terms. At the same time, we are working with the Lebanese authorities to set up an infrastructure financing facility to make it easier for the private sector to invest and grow. We will do this by pooling all our resources in support of a country with great untapped potential. This will involve the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is commonly known as the World Bank; the International Finance Cooperation, which is our private sector arm; and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, which offers political risk insurance to investors. We are reaching out to all of you to join us.

It's time to move from words to deeds. Looking around this room today I am confident that the teams in place will make this happen. In conclusion, allow me to extend the World Bank Group’s deepest appreciation to France - to President Macron, Minister Le Drian, and Minister Le Marie - for arranging this discussion, and for their tireless efforts on Lebanon’s behalf.

I want to personally thank Prime Minister Hariri for his sustained leadership and dedication to improving the lives of the Lebanese people who have demonstrated their resilience and generosity time and time again and for whom we must continue to do our very best.