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Speeches & Transcripts August 4, 2021

Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass at the Conference in Support of the Lebanese People

President Macron and excellencies.  Good morning, afternoon, and evening. We're here today to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Lebanon.  And in support of the Lebanese people -- they are all vital to the world. Like people everywhere, they deserve food, water, medicine, and sanitation services. 

There is a pressing need for the formation of a government that can reform, deliver these basic services and end the corruption.

Yet the supplies of even food and water are at risk, and the currency and banking systems are in collapse. We’ve called it a “deliberate depression" because so much of the damage has been inflicted by past governments and their supporters. 

Lebanon must find a path to a government that promotes transparency, human rights, and a rule of law that extends accountability to all institutions. To grow, people need freedom, security, investment, and, to stop inflation, the government's strong new commitment to a transparent currency that holds its value. 

Following the explosion, the World Bank Group, together with the UN and the EU, quickly completed a damage and needs assessment. Our staff worked day and night to respond to the emergency.

Lebanon was one of the first beneficiaries of the World Bank’s global support for COVID-19 vaccinations. More vaccinations are vital and we urge broad distribution. We’re currently working to increase vaccine uptake, including for refugees and other vulnerable groups.

We’ve committed significant funds to an Emergency Social Safety Net Project in order to provide emergency cash transfers and social services to the poor and vulnerable. I call on the Lebanese authorities and Central Bank to take the immediate steps needed to start disbursing this cash assistance to eligible beneficiaries.

Dependable and affordable electricity is vital for businesses, households, education, and the maintenance of the water and sanitation systems. Lebanon itself must reform the system and stop the losses.  I join Kristalina in calling for the audit of the central bank and the electricity generator.  I also call on Lebanon's neighbors, including Syria and its partners to cooperate in the transmission of gas and electricity.   This could almost immediately provide many hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits while improving public services.

Starting tomorrow, we will be supporting small businesses impacted by the August 4 explosion through the newly approved B5 project.

We are working with partners to rebuild the Port of Beirut, and we ask the Government to expedite the ratification of a Port Sector Law that sets the basis for a new, more transparent Port organization and management.

I look forward to working with all of you here today for a better future for Lebanon.

Thank you.