This Week in Lebanon

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Heidi Ahmed
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JANUARY 15, 2021
Parliament Approves Draft Law for Vaccines
World Bank Approves a $246 Million Loan to Lebanon
Expat Business Leaders Sign MOU to Help Lebanese Industrialists

Parliament Approves Draft Law for Vaccines After Delay
After delay, Lebanon’s parliament approved a draft law today that will allow imports of coronavirus vaccines, importantly the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. A new record of case numbers were recorded this week as more hospitals report that they are at full capacity, some unable to find beds for even for critical patients. The first deliveries of vaccines should start arriving in February. [Associated Press]

ANALYSIS
“The Lebanese Diaspora around the world and international aid agencies have made it clear they are ready to fund vaccines for the people of Lebanon. Money is not the problem in this case. The real problem started when the Lebanese government failed to reserve vaccines months ago from reputable companies and thereby lost out on early delivery commitments. The most recent offer by Pfizer was delayed until today when an emergency law was passed in Parliament to open up the country to vaccines. Meanwhile, people are dying, ventilators are in short supply, and there are no beds left for the sick.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

World Bank Approves a $246 Million Loan to Lebanon
On Tuesday, the World Bank approved a $246 million loan for Lebanon that will be provided to Lebanese authorities and distributed to the Lebanese people through the Emergency Crisis and COVID-19 Response Social Safety Net Project (ESSN). ESSN is a social safety net organized to help over 780,000 vulnerable Lebanese families. Households will receive a monthly transfer of LBP 100,000 per household member and a flat amount of LBP 200,000 per household through a pre-paid card. [The 961]

ANALYSIS
“This loan is badly needed and is a test of the government’s transparency in delivering assistance to Lebanese families in need. Since the World Bank must work directly with governments, it is essential that the it monitors how the Lebanese authorities distribute the cash cards to avoid supporting one group over another. Cash transfers work best when targeted to those in need, not the general population. This will help ensure that low-income families have a real chance of surviving the winter.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Expat Business Leaders Sign MOU with the Association of Lebanese Industrialists
This week an economic recovery platform for Lebanon called Cedar Oxygen signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of Lebanese Industrialists that will offer financing and financial services to Lebanese industrialists. The MOU includes matching industrialists financing solutions, sharing market intelligence and data, mutual communications and marketing support and overall navigation of economic, social and governance challenges. [The 961]

ANALYSIS
“The Cedar Oxygen fund is directed at supporting the recovery of the industrial and manufacturing sectors of Lebanon an well as small and medium enterprises that are part of supply chains. By providing financial vehicles for trade financing and equipment procurement, the fund will make up the shortfall that has disabled Lebanon’s private sector, and also hopes to boost exports so that employment is protected and expanded. It is a worthy partnership that the overseas Lebanese should support.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.