BEIRUT — Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati met Friday morning with the World Bank's director of Middle East operations, Jean-Christophe Carret, to discuss several issues, including assistance to public sector teachers who have been on strike since last Monday.
During a meeting at Beirut's Grand Serail Mikati and Carret also discussed the financial audit to be conducted at the national public provider Electricite du Liban (EDL), reported the state-run National News Agency, and a possible additional WB loan to support the state's Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) program, in a Lebanon ravaged by the economic crisis.
The two officials discussed the WB's various projects in Lebanon, "among which is aid to the education sector of about $25 million, specifically for public sector teachers," the NNA reported.
All public sector teachers' unions launched a strike Monday, scheduled to last until Sunday, to protest the lack of government aid and salaries that have deteriorated considerably in light of the collapse of the national currency.
The discussion also focused on "an aid of about $1 million for the electricity sector, in order to conduct the financial audit at EDL, including the review of tariffs and the financial situation" of the institution. The creation of an independent regulatory authority was also discussed, a body that has never been established and which is not unanimously supported by the Lebanese political class. A meeting of Mikati's caretaker cabinet could be held next week on the issue of electricity. The public utility barely manages to provide a few hours of power per day.
The question of a "new WB grant through a second loan for the Aman network," one of the components of the ESSN program, was also on the agenda. This social assistance program is supposed to help the most needy families with regular allowances.