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France satisfied with progress on infrastructure program

Sep 11

France satisfied with progress on infrastructure program

Skepticism among CEDRE’s donors has risen but they remain ready to help

French President Emmanuel Macron is satisfied with Lebanon’s progress on starting an infrastructure investment program, said the office of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, following a phone conversation between the two leaders.

This statement came after Pierre Duquesne, a French envoy representing donors of the CEDRE conference, said that the Lebanese authorities need to speed up reforms, pass the 2020 budget this year, and set the priorities for the 250 infrastructure projects that will be financed by CEDRE donors.

“It is true that their [donors’] skepticism has risen in recent weeks… but they remain ready to help as long as things are progressing well on the Lebanese side,” Duquesne said.

Funding has not yet begun to flow because the country was without a government for nine months, according to Duquesne. “And even after government formation, donors continue to question the Lebanese government. This view is shared by all donors,” he said.

Duquesne called for tax hikes and said that to reduce the budget deficit, efforts must focus on spending.

“There are some people who still believe that there is a miracle solution, a magical solution to solve all the problems. This does not exist. Time is running out and we cannot continue with the endless debates,” he said.

At the CEDRE conference, the government committed to cut the fiscal deficit and implement reforms as a condition to unlock more than $11 billion in financing pledged by donors at the conference. The promised funding aims to finance infrastructure projects and mainly consists of low-interest loans and some grants.

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