The International Finance Corporation,
the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and the Lebanese Ministry
of Economy and Trade are sponsoring a conference, “Doing Business 2006:
Improving Lebanon’s Business Environment,” on November 14, 2005, in Beirut,
Lebanon. The initiative is being organized by IFC’s technical assistance
facility in the Middle East and North Africa, PEP-MENA.
The conference will assess the extent
to which Lebanon’s business regulations present an impediment to the private
sector, review how Lebanon’s regulatory environment compares to other
countries in the region, and discuss specific reforms needed to improve
the country’s investment climate. The conference is part of a larger
program to reform Lebanon’s business-enabling environment; it will be
followed by meetings with policymakers and stakeholders to discuss potential
areas of technical assistance from IFC. The aim is to improve Lebanon’s
attractiveness as a location for private investment; the event is part
of the economic reform program of the country’s new cabinet.
The conference agenda derives from “Doing
Business in 2006: Creating Jobs,” an annual report issued by the World
Bank and IFC that compares the ease of doing business across 155 countries.
The report ranks Lebanon 95th overall, based on the time and number of
procedures needed to pay taxes, hire and fire workers, get credit, register
property, deal with licenses, trade across borders, start or close a business,
protect investors, and enforce contracts. The Doing Business presentation
will be delivered by Michael Klein, World Bank Group Vice President for
Private Sector Development and IFC Chief Economist. Klein directs
the team that prepared the report.
IFC’s PEP-MENA initiative is strongly
supported by Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy and Trade, and the conference
will take place with the attendance of H.E. Minister Sami Haddad. As part
of the Ministry’s reform plans, the aim is to allow all relevant stakeholders
to voice their concerns and engage in fruitful dialogue on the difficulties
faced in conducting business. Industry and government officials will
be the conference’s main speakers, and participants will include businessmen
and others from the private sector, business associations, and chambers
of commerce. The event will help the World Bank Group identify areas that
need immediate reform efforts and will be followed by high-level meetings
with Lebanese policymakers in various fields, in order to mobilize the
resources needed to improve the country’s business environment.
The mission of IFC (www.ifc.org)
is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries,
helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private
sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international
financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability,
and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49
billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319
companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio
as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held
for participants in loan syndications. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
The Private Enterprise Partnership for
the Middle East and North Africa (PEP-MENA) is IFC’s technical assistance
facility supporting private sector development in the region. It focuses
on improving the business-enabling and regulatory environment in the region;
strengthening the financial sector; promoting the growth of small and medium
enterprises and their support services, such as business organizations
and consulting firms; helping restructure and privatize state-owned enterprises;
and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership projects,
especially in infrastructure.