Beirut explosion may cost more than $8bln: World Bank

Lebanon now needs from $605mln to $760mln in urgent financial aid to bounce back from the disaster, the World Bank said


BEIRUT: A new assessment conducted by the World Bank Group has placed the damage from the Beirut Port explosion at as high as $4.6 billion, with an additional $2.9 billion to $3.5 billion incurred in economic losses in the wake of the blast.

The deadly explosion on Aug. 4 destroyed vast swaths of the city, plunging the country into even deeper economic turmoil at a time when it was already on its knees. Even before the explosion, the World Bank had estimated that the Lebanese economy would contract by 10.9 percent this year.

Lebanon now needs from $605 million to $760 million in urgent financial aid to bounce back from the disaster, the World Bank said.

According to the assessment, the total reconstruction and recovery needs are estimated in the range of $1.8 billion and $2.2 billion, with the priorities for government spending being transport, cultural needs and housing.

The World Bank’s Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment, produced in cooperation with the United Nations and European Union, calls for “building back a better Lebanon based on the principles of transparency, inclusion and accountability,” stating that this must meet the needs of the Lebanese people.

The RDNA recommended an approach “that prioritizes the needs of the people, particularly the poor and most vulnerable,” while pushing for structural reforms relating to macro-economic stabilization, governance, private sector operating environment, and ensuring human security.

“These reforms should prevent corruption and elite capture,” the World Bank stressed.

Given Lebanon’s state of insolvency and lack of sufficient foreign exchange reserves, it will be forced to rely heavily on international aid and private investment in order to recover, the World Bank’s assessment stressed.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun told the World Bank Monday evening at Baabda Palace that "Lebanon would rise again from its slump with the support of the international community,” adding that “the next government will focus on a plan to confront the implications of what has happened in recent months.”

Lebanese diplomat Mustapha Adib was appointed as Lebanon's prime minister-designate Monday following binding parliamentary consultations held at Baabda Palace.

He is now tasked with forming a new government following mass resignations in the wake of the Beirut explosion.

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