Beirut, March 15 (SocialNews.XYZ) The World Bank announced that it will allocate about $300 million this year to provide social protection to Lebanon's vulnerable population and invest $200 million in the country's agriculture sector.
Ferid Belhaj, World Bank vice president for Middle East and North Africa, made the remarks during his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati to discuss ways of supporting the country amid its current economic crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.
There is a possibility of "investing more money in the coming years in Lebanon's agriculture, industry, environment, energy, and economy in addition to the health and education sectors, which are among the most important sectors in the current situation", Belhaj said.
"Establishing projects to serve the Lebanese citizens, such as the social coverage project, is very important as they directly impact Lebanese citizens who have reached an unprecedented level of poverty," he added.
He also said that the World Bank is considering an investment of $100 to $150 million in renewable energy projects in Lebanon.
For nearly three years, Lebanon has been assailed by the most devastating, multi-pronged crisis in its modern history.
The unfolding economic and financial crisis that started in October 2019 has been further exacerbated by the dual economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the massive Port of Beirut explosion in August 2020, according to the World Bank.
Of the three, the economic crisis has had by far the largest (and most persistent) negative impact.
In July last year, Lebanon was reclassified by the World Bank as a lower-middle income country, down from upper middle-income status.
Unemployment has also increased from 11.4 per cent in 2018-19 to 29.6 per cent in 2022.
Also on Tuesday, the Lebanese currency collapsed to 100,000 LBP per US dollar for the first time in history.
The value of the Lebanese currency lost 8,000 pounds from two weeks ago when it stood at 92,000 pounds against the dollar.
In 1997, the pound was pegged to the dollar at 1,500 LBP to 1 US dollar, and the two were convertible until October 2019.
On Feb. 1, the Central Bank of Lebanon had shifted its long-standing official exchange rate from 1,507.5 LBP to 15,000 LBP against the dollar, but is still well below the real value of the dollar.
Lebanon's economists have been calling on authorities to elect a new president and form a new cabinet to end the political deadlock and allow the country to implement necessary reforms and stop the collapse.
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