World Bank cancels loan for Bisri dam in Lebanon, effective immediately
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank on Friday said it had canceled $ 244 million in undisbursed funds for Lebanon’s Bisri dam project after repeatedly voicing concerns about the project since January.
In a statement, the World Bank said it has informed the Lebanese government of its decision, which takes effect immediately. He said he also repeatedly stressed the need for an “open, transparent and inclusive consultative process”.
The World Bank began expressing concerns in January over Lebanon’s plans to build the large dam in the Bisri Valley and partially suspended funding for the program on June 26.
Initially approved by the Lebanese government in 2015 at a total cost of $ 617 million, the dam has long drawn criticism from environmental activists. Concerns about large infrastructure projects have increased since the massive explosion in the Port of Beirut on August 4 that left more than 190 people dead.
The World Bank has committed $ 474 million to finance the project, of which $ 244 million has yet to be disbursed.
The Bank initially set July 22 as the deadline for authorities to meet all the requirements to proceed with the project, but then agreed to extend the deadline until September 4, given the constraints imposed by the novel coronavirus pandemic. .
The Bank said the Lebanese government did not respond to questions regarding an ecological compensation plan and arrangements for the operation and management of the dam. The entrepreneur had not been mobilized on the site either, he said.
Certain expenses related to fiduciary and environmental and social guarantees would remain exempt, he said.
The Bank said it remained ready to work with the Lebanese authorities to see how existing loans, including undisbursed amounts from the canceled Bisri project, could be used most effectively to meet the emerging needs of the Lebanese population. to the explosion of the port.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler and Aurora Ellis