Lebanon secures $4,400 million in Paris

29 November 2002

Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri received pledges of $4,400 million in concessionary loans at the Paris II donors' conference on 23 November. Hariri said that the result was more than had been expected, and paid particular tribute to the role of French President Jacques Chirac, who chaired the meeting, and of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. The Saudi government, represented by Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, gave the most of any single country at $700 million. France pledged $500 million and Malaysia $300 million.

Hariri presented conference participants with a detailed outline of measures that would be taken to reduce Lebanon's huge public debt, which he said would reach $31,000 million by the end of 2002. Of the total money secured in Paris, $3,000 million will be used to reduce debt servicing, by replacing more costly debt with loans at lower interest rates and longer maturity, and the rest will go to development projects. Debt servicing consumes about 90 per cent of government revenues. Other governments have promised additional funds when they have assessed Lebanon's progress in tackling the deficit, among them Iran which has offered $100 million to help the Banque du Liban (central bank) defend the Lebanese pound. Hariri also hopes to use the revenues accrued from the government's privatisation programme to reduce the debt, and he told donors that these funds would reach $5,000 million in 2003.

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