|Government details Stockholm conference donor commitments
|$900 million includes 87 percent grants, 13 percent loans
The government is set to launch the reconstruction of all infrastructure that was destroyed during the Israeli war on Lebanon and intends to explain its mechanism for the distribution of cash to all those who lost property outside the capital's southern suburbs in a news conference today, the office of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced.
Siniora is to announce the creation of a special fund that will supervise the distribution of aid to all beneficiaries.
The Council for Development and Reconstruction estimated the total direct material damage in Lebanon at $3.6 billion, while the indirect losses are believed to be much higher.
Qatar, which pledged $300 million for Lebanon at the Stockholm Conference for Lebanon's Early Recovery on August 31, has already started distributing checks to the residents of four villages near the southern border.
The UAE made a similar gesture, handing out checks to the fishermen who lost their livelihoods during the war.
At today's press conference, Finance Minister Jihad Azour is expected to distribute a list of all countries and organizations that contributed total pledges of around $900 million to Lebanon at the Stockholm conference.
According to a report prepared by the Finance Ministry, the Lebanese government's plan for early recovery was detailed in a document prepared by the government for the Stockholm conference (and published online at http://www.lebanonundersiege.gov.lb). The document describes the government strategy and its objectives.
Additionally, a preliminary assessment was provided specifically for damages to infrastructure. Twenty-one projects amounting to $537 million and encompassing all of the priority sectors for Lebanon's early recovery were identified in the government report.
The report said the conference demonstrated the international community's strong support to the Lebanese government. The estimated $900 million was much higher than the initial objective of $500 million. Of the total funds pledged, 87 percent are in the form of grants and 13 percent, or approximately $120 million, are in concessional loans.
Out of the 38 donors that pledged funds for early recovery, Arab donors led the way, with Qatar representing slightly more than 33 percent of contributions; the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development with around 13 percent; the UAE with 8 percent and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 6.7 percent.
European Community contributions, which include humanitarian assistance and technical assistance, represented 10 percent of total donations. A pledge from the United States constituted approximately 6 percent of the total.
In principle, donors have three channels for supporting the Lebanese government's early recovery effort. Donors may sponsor a project directly such as reconstruction of a bridge; may opt to donate in cash to the Government's account with Banque du Liban (two internationally recognized accounting and auditing firms are to review its accounts and operations); or provide in-kind contributions such as equipment to replace those destroyed by the war.
"As was successfully done in other post-conflict countries, we are also working on quickly establishing an early recovery fund, with the UN Development Group's assistance," the government report said.
The Ministry of Finance is currently coordinating with various donors to ensure transparency and that funds received will be used according to donors' specifications, the ministry announced. If countries or funds wish to make in-kind or project-related donations, the Ministry of Finance will channel inquiries related to technical matters in the context of each donation to a team of professionals at the Prime Minister's Office. The Council for Development and Reconstruction is responsible for implementing the various initiatives with the support of multinational organizations as needed.
The Daily Star