Lebanon Businessnews News

Looking for
zero interest debt
Ministry of Finance wants international
subsidies on T-bills and infrastructure projects
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The Government is seeking from international organizations interest rate subsidies on Treasury bills to buttress the public budget and ease the debt burden, said Ali Hassan Khalil, the Minister of Finance.

The MoF is seeking to obtain soft loans at near-zero interest rates for vital infrastructure projects that include healthcare, education, and electricity projects. “If this is achieved, it will have a positive impact on our overall financial situation,” Khalil said following a meeting with Hafez Ghanem the Vice President of the World Bank (WB) for the Middle East and North Africa.

Ghanem said that the WB is looking for ways to provide new assistance to Lebanon in many sectors, such as education and the infrastructure. The WB is looking for ways to help in dealing with the Syrian refugee problem.

Joe Sarrouh, Executive Advisor to the Chairman at Fransabank, said the World Bank has a wide range of financial instruments that can help in this matter, but assistance would be contingent on conditions and likely limited in scope.

Sarrouh said that the World Bank’s conditions would include that Lebanon implement reforms, trim down the public sector through privatization, fight corruption, speed up potential projects, such as oil and gas exploration, and impose additional taxes. In light of the global economic slowdown and the plunge in oil revenues, few countries could currently provide financial assistance, he said.

The MoF’s long standing position is that the support needed to finance services provided to Syrian refugees should be in the form of a basket of grants and not loans.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
Date Posted: Jan 21, 2016
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