World Bank suspends disbursement of Bisri Dam loan

0
107

The dam has been the subject of much controversy from all sides, with Civil Society groups holding an ongoing protest camp nearby, while other groups question the expenditure by a Lebanese state with little money in reserve.

by TK Maloy -Source: Annahar

Recent photo of activists protesting construction of Bisri Dam. (Photo/Annahar.)

BEIRUT: The World Bank indicated that it has partially suspended the disbursement of a $474m concessional loan under the Bisri Dam project due to the Lebanese authorities’ inadequate compliance with the requirements of the loan agreement.

According to Byblos Banks “Lebanon this Week” publication, The World Bank had given the government until July 22, 2020, to make progress on several requirements, such as completing the ecological compensation plan, drafting a roadmap for the plan’s implementation in the medium to long terms, and reaching an agreement on the operation and maintenance of the dam with the concerned parties.

But the Lebanese government asked the World Bank to extend the July 22 deadline by three months, while the Bank is assessing the progress that Lebanon made to date.

In addition, the World Bank called on the government to maintain an open, transparent, and inclusive consultative process with all Lebanese stakeholders.

Further, the Bank reiterated its readiness to work with the government to assess the possible use of the country’s existing loan portfolio, including the undisbursed amounts under the Bisri project, more efficiently to respond to the emerging needs of the Lebanese people.

The dam has been the subject of much controversy from all sides, with Civil Society groups holding an ongoing protest camp nearby, while other groups question the expenditure by a Lebanese state with little money in reserve.

One activist called it “The robbery of the century” criticizing government contracting methods.

The Bisri Dam is part of the Water Supply Augmentation (WSA) project that the World Bank approved in September 2014, and that aims to support the development of the water sector in the Greater Beirut & Mount Lebanon area, and the management of sustainable water resources.

The $617m WSA project consists of the construction of the Bisri Dam in the South with a storage capacity of 125 million cubic meters of water and its related 26-kilometer underground pipeline.

The project was supposed to be financed by a $474m concessional loan from the World Bank, a $128m loan from the Islamic Development Bank, and by $15m from the Lebanese government.

Lebanese authorities had previously indicated that the costs incurred for the project until April 2020 reached $340m, and that the land appropriations have been settled.

The Ministry of Energy & Water noted that the government could incur additional costs if the contracts are canceled, as it was liable for the loan

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here