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World Bank : Anna Bjerde visits Beirut

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The World Bank's Managing Director of Operations, Anna Bjerde, arrived in Lebanon on Monday “for a two-day visit to discuss with stakeholders the latest socio-economic developments in the country and reaffirm the World Bank's strong support for Lebanon in these challenging times,” according to a statement from the organization.

Anna Bjerde © WB

The World Bank's Managing Director of Operations, Anna Bjerde, arrived in Lebanon on Monday “for a two-day visit to discuss with stakeholders the latest socio-economic developments in the country and reaffirm the World Bank's strong support for Lebanon in these challenging times,” according to a statement from the organization.

She is accompanied by Ousmane Dione, the new Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa who took over from Farid Belhadj, who retired in March, and Carl Skau, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP).

The two executives are due to meet several Lebanese officials, including Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri. 

In a message posted on the X network (formerly Twitter) on May 4, Bjerde said that she “exchanged views with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati” on the subjects at the center of her visit to Lebanon, as the senior Lebanese official was not expected to be in Lebanon at the time of the delegation's visit. Meetings with the deputy prime minister, Saadeh Chami, are also on the agenda.

In particular, the latter plans to discuss “the implementation of urgent reforms, the support envisaged by the World Bank over the next few years, notably to ensure the security of water supplies, the development of low-cost renewable energies and the digitization of public services.”

One part of the visit will be devoted more specifically to the evaluation of Lebanon's Emergency Social Safety Net (also known as ESSN or Aman program), a program financed by the World Bank, and to DAEM, the “first fully digitized national social register.” 

The World Bank has released three disbursements to finance the ESSN program launched in the midst of the crisis: $246 million in January 2021, a $4 million extension granted in May 2022 and $300 million in May 2023. MPs passed the law implementing the latter loan last December, but program implementation was temporarily disrupted by a dispute between the World Bank and the authorities over the terms and conditions put in place by the Lebanese government.

© OLJ

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