Your excellency, Mr. Amin Salam, Minister of Economy and Trade of Lebanon,
Excellencies the ambassadors,
Dear guests from the embassies, international organizations and the United Nations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the United Nations House in Beirut, the city which never ceases to amaze us with its endless rebounds despite all the odds.
And it gives me great hope to see esteemed ambassadors, representatives of line ministries, international organizations, donor agencies, and members of the United Nations among us today.
Your presence in the launching event of the short-term economic recovery plan for Lebanon is a testimony to your support for this ever-resilient country amid the adversity it is facing.
An adversity I would not be exaggerating to describe as one of the worst economic and financial falls in modern history:
Inflation has skyrocketed. It now stands at a shocking 154 per cent.
GDP has shrunk. It fell by 25 per cent in 2020, and 16.2 per cent in 2021.
Unemployment has soared. It reached 43.5 per cent in 2021 and is expected to reach 32 per cent in 2022.
Multidimensional poverty has prevailed. It doubled from 42 per cent in 2019 to 82 per cent in 2021.
The percentage of young migrants aged between 25 and 35 has been on the rise. It now stands at an alarming 70 per cent.
And the Human Development Index for Lebanon has hit new lows, deteriorating for the third consecutive year in 2021.
Undeniably, these are disheartening numbers!
They reveal interlinked shocks and crises.
Worsening financial, social and economic conditions.
Strained fiscal space.
Relentless repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dire consequences of the Beirut Port explosion.
Severe brain drain crisis.
Extensive losses and, therefore, missed development opportunities.
And it is because of all these disheartening facts and figures that we are here today.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we are kickstarting a project aimed at enhancing efficient planning in the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade.
Because we believe that reform coupled with realistic, coordinated and operational planning is key for the short-term economic revival of Lebanon.
And the short-term economic revival is what Lebanon needs right now.
Because although fundamental reforms are crucial, the Lebanese people do not have the luxury to wait for longer-term results.
They need quick opportunities and incomes.
To do so, targeted short-term actions in core sectors need to be implemented.
And to do so, Lebanon needs our support.
The situation in Lebanon is unprecedented, and so should be our support.
The challenges are daunting, and stronger should be our determination.
Determination to give hope to those who are desperate to leave a collapsing Lebanon and pursue ever riskier routes out.
Determination to preserve the dignity of every man, woman and child in Lebanon.
And determination to help Lebanon amaze us, once again, with its endless rebounds against all the odds.