Beirut: The Lebanese government on Monday agreed to provide tens of thousands of poor families with cash assistance in US dollars through a World Bank loan as the country’s economic crisis deepens.
The move comes as Lebanon is expected to end fuel subsidies by the end of next month, a move that is expected to result in a sharp increase in the prices of almost all products.
Aid in US dollars
The Lebanese parliament approved in March a loan of 246 million dollars from the World Bank which would provide assistance to more than 160,000 families. However, the decision was delayed by the government’s insistence on paying him in Lebanese pounds.
World Bank Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha tweeted that he had received a letter from Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni confirming that beneficiaries would be paid in US dollars.
The US dollar is trading at around 20,000 pounds on the black market, negatively affecting the purchasing power of many people in the small country of 6 million people, including one million Syrian refugees. More than half of the Lebanese population lives in poverty.
It was not immediately clear how much money each of the 161,257 families – or about 800,000 people – will receive. The government previously planned to give each family 800,000 Lebanese pounds per month for one year, with the dollar being calculated at 6,240 pounds.
According to a World Bank statement in January, a significant portion of the loan – nearly $ 200 million – will be used to provide cash assistance to about 786,000 people via a prepaid electronic card.