Lebanon approves World Bank rescue plan for needy families

Lebanon approves World Bank rescue plan for needy families
Lebanese army soldiers stand guard during a protest against the fall in Lebanese pound currency and mounting economic hardships, in Beirut, Lebanon March 12, 2021. (REUTERS)
Short Url
Updated 13 March 2021

Lebanon approves World Bank rescue plan for needy families

Lebanon approves World Bank rescue plan for needy families
  • Interior minister sounds alarm on ‘diminishing security situation’

BEIRUT: The Lebanese parliament on Friday approved a $246 million World Bank emergency assistance plan to support struggling families and strengthen the social safety net amid the country’s worst economic and health crisis in decades.

Under the relief plan, 161,251 families classified as the poorest in Lebanon will receive 800,000 Lebanese pounds ($80) per month per family for one year.

The aid program will be implemented under the supervision of the World Bank.

The emergency package is expected to reduce mounting resentment against the country’s political leadership, which is widely blamed for the economic collapse and parliamentary stalemate.

Mohammed Fahmy, the caretaker interior minister, warned of “a diminishing security situation,” adding that “security is a product of politics, and all the country’s systems have diminished.”

He said: “We are part of the people and we are hungry. The political forces must resolve the obstacles to form a rescue government as soon as possible.

“We can no longer take it. The situation is very bad, the country is exposed, and I am sounding the alarm.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Thursday that “time is running out to prevent the collapse of Lebanon, and we do not see any indication that Lebanese politicians are doing what they can to save their country.”

The approval of aid follows growing protests against the economic meltdown.

Protesters attempted to march on the UNESCO Palace in Beirut while a parliamentary session took place, but tight security measures stopped them from reaching the venue.

Meanwhile, the dollar exchange rate on the black market in some regions reached new highs of 11,000 Lebanese pounds.

As the dollar exchange rate soars, the price of essential materials and commodities is increasing, while the value of people’s wages continues to decline.

The minimum wage, once equivalent to $450, has fallen below $62. As a result, public and private sector salaries have lost their value.

In its plenary session on Friday, parliament authorized the government to amend the housing loan ceilings for the Banque de L’habitat from 300 million to 450 million Lebanese pounds, and from 400 million to 600 million pounds.

Parliament also approved an agreement with the World Bank to allocate $5.5 million to support small and medium enterprises.

MP Hadi Abu Al-Hassan objected to financial aid for families, saying that people need to understand “the pain will continue and the loan will not achieve the desired goal.”

Parliament retracted proposals to support the military and security services with 1 million Lebanese pounds per month for each soldier.

The Ministry of Energy’s proposal to give an advance of 1,500 billion Lebanese pounds to Electricite du Liban (EDL) was referred to the joint committees that will meet next Tuesday.

The proposal to give aid to the military and security forces alone in the private sector was met with widespread objections, with activists and some politicians describing it as a bribe for security services.

Public administration employees, who went on strike on Friday, also objected to the plan.

The proposal was rejected by Army Command, which said it had not discussed the proposal, adding: “The military establishment is not concerned with it.”

It stressed that “the citizens have the right to demonstrate to demand their rights.”

MP Bilal Al-Abdallah said that the handling of the economic and social crisis “is a stop-gap, and we are begging for money from abroad.”

Al-Abdallah told Arab News: “We need government formation and reforms. Otherwise, the treatment is temporary.

“I objected during the session to giving the families this aid in Lebanese pounds instead of dollars.

“The Banque du Liban and the banks have made this decision because they want to keep their dollars, and people will not receive the full value in dollars as it will be calculated less than its exchange rate in the market.”

The Supreme Judicial Council on Friday approved the resignation of two judges and rejected applications for deposit submitted by other judges.

 


Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman

Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman
Ajay Adiseshann. (Supplied)
Updated 3 min 34 sec ago

Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman

Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman
  • The company is aiming to double the global volume of transactions it processes to nearly $6 billion by March 2022

RIYADH: Indian financial technology (fintech) provider PayMate is planning to expand into Saudi Arabia and Oman after having recently launched into the region in the UAE.

Mumbai-based PayMate, which helps companies manage their cash flow and invoice payments, is aiming that up to 15 percent of its total revenue will come from the Middle East market within the next year.

“Our first customer went live recently in the UAE. We have a strong pipeline of customers there. And we are also expanding to new countries like Saudi Arabia and Oman thereafter,” founder and CEO Ajay Adiseshann was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper this week.

“It is exactly the same model, the same use-case, same problem statement which we address here in India. We are delivering everything from India, via the cloud. But from a sales development, business standpoint, we have our local employees in those countries.”

The company is aiming to double the global volume of transactions it processes to nearly $6 billion by March 2022.

Chief Financial Officer Ravi Vishvanathan told the Economic Times that PayMate currently has 200 companies using its platform and is aiming to boost this to around 400 by March 2022.


GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector

GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector
Updated 23 June 2021

GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector

GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector
  • Ahmad Al-Ohali provided an overview of the national military industry strategy, the Industrial Participation Program, and the role of research and technology in Saudi Arabia’s defense strategy
  • H. Delano Roosevelt recalled the long history of cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, and predicted that America will continue to play a dominant role in supporting the Kingdom

RIYADH: The US-Saudi Business Council (USSBC) and the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) presented an executive virtual webinar on Wednesday titled “Understanding Saudi Arabia’s Military Industry Growth Strategy.”

Moderated by USSBC President and CEO H. Delano Roosevelt, the webinar provided participating US company representatives with an understanding of the Kingdom’s blossoming defense and security sector. 

Ahmad Al-Ohali, governor of GAMI and the event’s featured speaker, highlighted the authority’s role in developing the Kingdom’s military industry sector.

He also provided an overview of the national military industry strategy, the Industrial Participation Program, and the role of research and technology in Saudi Arabia’s defense strategy.

GAMI was established to grow the Kingdom’s military industries sector, in line with the Vision 2030 target of localizing more than 50 percent of defense expenditures by 2030.

GAMI is the regulator, enabler and licensor of the sector, and is responsible for its development and empowerment. 

Since the launch of Vision 2030 just five years ago, Saudi Arabia has achieved significant socioeconomic milestones while showing tremendous progress in transforming many key sectors of the economy. 

As a result of GAMI’s commitment to its mandate, the military industries sector has rapidly transformed and is now on a steady path to becoming a major contributor to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil gross domestic product. 

Al-Ohali emphasized the breadth of opportunities that Saudi Arabia’s defense localization presents to global investors and US defense partners.

Development of the military industries sector requires a whole ecosystem of research and technology institutions, a skilled workforce and other support functions, in addition to local production capabilities, he said. 

Roosevelt recalled the long history of cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, and predicted that America will continue to play a dominant role in supporting the Kingdom through future strategic relationships.

He said the USSBC will continue facilitating connections between US and Saudi companies, and educating American businesses about the benefits of engaging in the Saudi market.


SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh
Updated 23 June 2021

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh
  • SABIC is working with UK-based company Plastic Energy to build its first commercial unit in Geleen
  • Chemicals giant focuses on recycling plastics

RIYADH: SABIC and BASF, two of the world’s largest chemical producers, met in Riyadh to share insights into their respective programs to develop circular economy solutions for the plastics industry.
SABIC shared progress it has made with TRUCIRCLE, a collection of processes that allow for the certification of polymers created through recycling of used and mixed plastic, certified bio-based renewable polymers, certified renewable polycarbonate (PC), and mechanically recycled polymers.
BASF discussed ChemCycling, a project to develop a pyrolysis technology that turns plastic waste into a secondary raw material called pyrolysis oil. The German multinational also explained how its plastic additives facilitate mechanical recycling of plastics.
SABIC is working with UK-based company Plastic Energy to build its first commercial unit in Geleen, The Netherlands, which will produce TRUCIRCLE certified circular polymers from recycled plastic.
“TRUCIRCLE has been introduced as a way to collectively showcase our circular innovations and help manufacturers reduce plastic waste through the adoption of a range of sustainable material solutions,” said Mark Vester, SABIC’ global leader circular economy. “It forms part of our circular economy business and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production.”


Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt
Updated 23 June 2021

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt
  • The company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability to allow Egypt to replace or supplement its existing Humvee fleet

DUBAI: Humvee manufacturer AM General has struck an initial agreement to help develop the production of military vehicles in Egypt.
The deal with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production is expected to become a long term partnership to develop and build tactical vehicles in-country, the US-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability to allow Egypt to replace or supplement its existing Humvee fleet.
“Today’s signing ceremony further solidifies our long-standing relationship with the government of Egypt,” said AM General President CEO Andy Hove. “We look forward to applying our manufacturing and design expertise to help grow the Egyptian automotive industry.”
The agreement is part of a broader push to develop more domestic military manufacturing in Egypt which is already a major defense sector importer. Arab states are ramping up spending on local defense sector investments as part of their economic diversification agendas which aim to create more local jobs while at the same time substituting value-added imports with locally manufactured alternatives.


Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency
Updated 23 June 2021

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency
  • Program is open to foreign retirees

RIYADH: Oman has announced a new program under which foreign investors are granted long-term residency, Asharq reported citing a statement by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.

The Investor Residence program will be for a period of five to 10 years, subject to renewal, and is open to foreign retirees, the ministry said.

The program, starting in September, aims to attract quality investments according to clear and specific controls.