Beirut, 27th July 2000
Intervention of The Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development
Representative; Director of Technical Department-Mrs. Mervat Badawi
It is an honour and a great pleasure to have the opportunity to participate in this meeting to support for Lebanon at this very important juncture. This is a significant day for Lebanon, the South in particular.
I would like to congratulate the government and the Lebanese people for liberating a very important part of its lands and for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Lebanon and its sovereignty.
I would like to command the initiative taken by his Excellency the Prime Minister for calling promptly for this crucial meeting to elevate the conditions of the people in the South. I would also like to congratulate H.E. the Prime and their Excellencies the ministers for their excellent and purposeful presentations and for so ably outlining the needs of people in the South.
We would like to recommend the CDR for a well-prepared and comprehensive documentation, particularly the five-year development plan for the liberated areas in the South, and the neighbouring regions. We applaud the interpreted approach the government is taking to help developing liberated areas of the South.
We also would like to stress here, like others did the value of yesterdayís trip to the South. Our appreciation for the Prime Minister for mounting this trip. We were able to see for ourselves the amount of destruction and the tremendous and pressing needs of the population in the various sectors, whether physical infrastructure, water, roads, electricity and housing or in the social infrastructure, schools, housing, but more importantly employment.
The generation of sufficient employment is one of the most serious challenges facing the Lebanese economy as was rightly pointed by H.E. the Minister of Economy. It is therefore, essential that developmental efforts begin to provide the basis for sustainable employment, and the improvement in social conditions.
We in the Arab Fund have realized the urgent needs of the South, we have responded promptly to the urgent and pressing needs of the South, and have given a grant of 10million dollars, for the water, housing, roads and electricity sectors; this is the first time the Fund gives a grant of such a magnitude. The Fund lies also committed a very soft loan with the amount of 50 million dollars to the other pressing and urgent needs in the South, priorities on how to allocate this loan will be discussed with the government.
We have been honored to be a partner in Lebanonís development, we thank the government for giving us this opportunity. Over the past years the Arab Fund has provided slightly over 500 million dollars in concessional financing to priority projects in the government programs. Contribution to Lebanonís development in the coming years will increase. We will support the government well balanced needs as presented in the five-year plans for the South and for the entire Lebanon. In the past years, our assistance has mainly focused on building the physical and social infrastructure necessary for productive activities, and while our focus will continue to be on the necessary infrastructure yet human resource development, particularly education and health, fast job creating activities, and projects aiming at a balanced regional growth and at alleviating poverty will figure high on our agenda.
The importance of the private sector in the development efforts has been stressed by H.E. the minister of finance, the importance of this sector has been fully recognized by the Arab Fund. We will be ready to finance private sector projects through the provision loans and equity participation. We do also recognize that in order to enhance private sector investments, efforts will have to be exerted towards financial strengthening and deepening; towards improving the investment climate and necessary infrastructure, these will figure high in our agenda while dealing with the private sector.
Let me end up by thanking once more the government of Lebanon for arranging this meeting and for the excellent documentation. I would like to write the government success in its humanitarian and development efforts to improve livelihood for the people in the South.