Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt , hailed on Saturday the outcome of CEDRE , the international donor conference in France , but at the same time he expressed concern that “corruption would impede the implementation of reforms.”
I n a tweet Jumblat said : “Recommendations of the Cedar (CEDRE) conference in Paris came out very well, but what matters is reforms. Can the political administration of the Lebanese state carry out the desired reform, or has the monster of corruption infiltrated everywhere to swallow the promises and foundations of the conference?”
He added referring to Lebanon’s long-term electricity crisis saying: “The experience in electricity sector so far is not promising.”
Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for reforms in his speech at the Lebanese Diaspora Energy Conference in Paris Saturday , following the (CEDRE) conference in Paris .
He said that Lebanese should threaten the candidates for the parliamentary elections with reforms. “If I don’t deliver [reforms] then don’t vote for me.”
International donors convened in Paris on April 6 and pledged $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in grants to support the ailing Lebanese economy in exchange for reforms. Lebanon is currently the third most indebted country in the world, with a public debt estimated at 150 percent of GDP, or $79 billion. Lebanon currently ranks 143 out of 180 in the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index released by Transparency International in February 2018, so if it does not reform its economy the pledges made at CEDRE might remain mere words.
Fears of economic collapse mounted ahead of the Cedre conference. Many worry that the Lebanese currency, which has been pegged at 1,500 to the dollar since 1997, could be devalued. The state-owned electricity company is considered one of the biggest drains on the state budget, costing about $1.5 billion a year . Lebanon was reportedly hoping to secure about $22 billions at the Cedre conference , but the result is more debt and very little help in grants. The main benefit from the loans will be paying off some of the public debt ( bonds) at reduced interest rates to lower the servicing cost.
According to Ya Liban economic analyst, all the top Lebanese leaders seem to be happy about the outcome of CEDRE and have been congratulating each other, because even though they were hoping to secure substantially more , deep inside they had very low expectations because they failed to implement any of the reforms they pledged during previous donor conferences.