Joseph Bahout| Friday, December 18, 2020
During the last year, an already weakened Middle East has witnessed stark challenges to its economic, environmental and structural foundations, thanks to COVID-19.
Declining oil prices went on declining at a steady pace, aggravated by a long-term global shrinking of demand; there was turbulence in the labor market, amid shortages of skilled imported labor due to the pandemic and the growing weight of public sector expenditures. This, in turn, translated into further public debt, growing deficits, and an opening up of public companies to private foreign capital.
Jamal Saghir| Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Lebanon’s Grand Serail. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)
In the last few weeks, the World Bank Group and the International Development community in Lebanon issued three important reports.
Immediately after the massive blast that rocked the port of Beirut on August 4, the World Bank Group in cooperation with the United Nations and the European Union (EU) launched a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment to assess the impact on the population, physical assets, infrastructure and service delivery. They estimated damages in order of US$3.8-4.6 billion, with housing and culture sectors most severely affected and losses around US$2.9-3.5 billion, with housing being the most hit followed by transport and culture. Priority Recovery and Reconstruction needs were estimated around US$ 2.0 billion, with transport needs highest followed by culture and housing.