The programme includes around 250 projects, including in the fields of electricity, water and waste management, according to official statements issued ahead of the conference. Donors, for their part, want Lebanon to commit to long-standing reforms. Refining these demands, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri promised to reduce the budget deficit by 5% of GDP over the next five years. Among those gathered in Paris was Saudi Arabia, whose relations with Lebanon have been strained in recent months. However, the kingdom has re-established a $1 billion line of credit for Lebanon. A year ago, Paris hosted the CEDRE conference as part of a series of three conferences (in addition to Rome II and Brussels) scheduled at a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon after the November 2017 crisis, caused by the shocking resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Riyadh. “We had no interest in seeing a failed state in the region,” said Jacques de Lajugie, economy minister at the French embassy, British ambassadors say electricity reform and the fight against corruption are working in conditions to free up billions in aid. Some $11 billion in so-called “soft” loans pledged by prosperous states and international organizations at the CEDRE conference hosted by France in 2018 were linked to structural reforms that the last Lebanese government never implemented. Last month, Lebanon managed to acquire hundreds of millions of dollars in promised loans to strengthen its security apparatus and army in Rome. Cedre is the second of three international conferences that aim to strengthen support for Lebanon`s various institutions this year. Lebanon is currently the third most indebted country in the world with an estimated public debt of 150% of GDP, or $80 billion. Last week, Lebanon adopted only its second budget since 2005, seen as a prerequisite for its success in Paris.
During parliament, Hariri condemned the scale of corruption that is bleeding the state coffers and promised to “hold the culprits to account.” The Paris conference, attended by 50 countries and organizations, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia and Qatar, decided to set up a follow-up mechanism to monitor progress in reforms. . . .