World Bank: More than half of Lebanon will be poor by 2021

The World Bank warned yesterday that more than half of Lebanese people will be poor by 2021 and criticised the local authorities’ “deliberate lack of effective policy action” to overcome the crisis.

A report by the World Bank Lebanon Economic Monitor (LEM) said: “A year into Lebanon’s severe economic crisis, deliberate lack of effective policy action by authorities has subjected the economy to an arduous and prolonged depression.”

The report added that Lebanon suffers from a dangerous depletion of resources, including “human capital, with brain drain becoming an increasingly desperate option”.

“For over a year, Lebanon’s macroeconomy has been assailed by compounded crises, beginning with an economic and financial crisis, followed by COVID-19 and lastly the explosion at the Port of Beirut. Of the three crises, the economic crisis has had—by far—the largest and most persistent negative impact. Real GDP growth is projected to sharply decelerate to -19.2 percent in 2020, on the back of a -6.7 percent contraction in 2019,” it added.

The report quoted World Bank Mashreq Regional Director, Saroj Kumar Jha, as saying that “lack of political consensus on national priorities severely impedes Lebanon’s ability to implement long-term and visionary development policies.”

“A new Government needs to quickly implement a credible macroeconomic stabilization strategy with short-term measures to contain the crisis, as well as medium- to long-term measures to address structural challenges,” he added.

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