Lebanon is expected to enter a new promising and prosperous era once the $11 billion in soft loans earmarked for the rehabilitation of the country’s ailing infrastructure starts pouring in.
The formation of the government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri has sent a positive signal to the international community that Lebanon will wholeheartedly and relentlessly meet all the conditions set by CEDRE conference in Paris.
Among the conditions attached to these financial pledges are wide scale administrative reforms to ensure transparency in all the projects that will be executed in the coming few years.
The Lebanese authority, which is keen to draw these funds to crucial projects, has hammered out a number of plans to facilitate the business climate and remove all bureaucratic and red tape procedures.
To help the Lebanese government identify some of the problematic legal and administrative procedures, the Investment Development Authority Lebanon (IDAL) has mandated UNCTAD to complete a comprehensive report on Lebanon.
UNCTAD Investment Policy Reviews (IPRs) are intended to help Lebanon improve its investment policies with the objective of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to familiarize governments and the international private sector with an individual country’s investment environment.
One of the agencies that were founded to attract foreign investments in different areas was no doubt IDAL which was very instrumental in facilitating the tasks of investors through one-stop-shop and other innovative ideas.
But despite the effective measures taken by IDAL, the Lebanese government felt it was important to benefit from the experience of UNCTAD improving the business climate.
Lebanon counts heavily on foreign direct investment to buttress the economy create more jobs and improve the balance of payments.
The report said that since 1997, Lebanon has consistently attracted significant foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.
From 1997 the country started to attract rising levels of FDI, with inflows consistently surpassing $2 billion per year since 2003, and reaching a record-high of $4.4 billion in 2009.
This is a strong performance for a post-conflict, developing economy with a population of just 6 million in 2016 (UNCTAD Stats, 2017) – of which an estimated 1.5 million are refugees – with limited natural resources, and where manufacturing accounts for less than 10 percent of gross domestic product.
Despite a slowdown following the global economic crisis, the country’s FDI performance has remained above that of comparator countries, including the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as a whole. FDI has played a key role in the development of a dynamic services sector.
The Daily Star