Conference in support of the Lebanese population, 4 August 2021

 

Remarks by M. Mathias Cormann,

Secretary General, OECD

Paris, 4 August 2021

President Macron, President Aoun,

Madam Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of State,

Dear colleagues,

The political, economic and financial crisis in Lebanon continues to worsen. The country is now facing serious shortages, especially of medicine and fuel.

The failure to agree on a decisive and credible reform programme as advocated by President Macron and international bodies has compounded the cost of the crisis.

The time has come to take action and urgently implement a forward-looking economic and social project.

That is why the OECD is calling on the Lebanese authorities, civil society and the private sector to work decisively to put in place a transparent and rigorous economic framework inspired by international standards and principles.

While our main focus may well be on the financial requirements for providing emergency humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, and the public and private investments needed to support economic recovery, it is also essential to ensure the presence of a reliable regulatory and institutional framework that meets the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, and that will govern the distribution and use of humanitarian funds and the mobilisation of investments.

It is essential that Lebanon commits to approaches validated by international experience and successfully adopted by other countries in the region, be it in terms of the governance of public finances, managing the conflicts of interest of public officials, or establishing guarantees for international investors.

With its experience and public policy instruments, the OECD can help Lebanon to implement the necessary reforms.

Allow me to centre on three areas in which the OECD can provide support:

  • First, the OECD can support the strengthening of public governance, particularly transparent and efficient public financial management. The recent reform of the public procurement system in Lebanon is a good example of a concrete reform with high potential impact. Let's keep up the good work.
  • Second, the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises provides a reliable framework for channelling international capital flows. We are working closely with the European Union to create a more favourable framework for investment in the Southern Mediterranean countries, and we call on Lebanon to launch the necessary reforms in this regard with our assistance.
  • Third, the OECD, through its Anti-Bribery Convention, can support the implementation of concrete measures to combat bribery in international business transactions, as the latter are pivotal in ensuring a strong economic recovery. The promotion of business integrity is indispensable for the recovery of the Lebanese economy, and for the population's belief in equitable economic growth.

Lebanon needs to proceed swiftly with the implementation of ambitious, sustainable and inclusive structural reforms. The OECD stands ready to assist Lebanon in designing and implementing these urgently needed reforms, in line with OECD standards and best practices, so it can build back better.

 

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