Lebanon approves $150 million World Bank wheat loan
Lebanese media report on Tuesday that amid shortages of subsidized bread, Lebanon's parliament approved a $150 million World Bank loan to import wheat.
Lebanon's parliament approved Tuesday a loan worth $150 million World Bank to import wheat, as shortages of subsidized bread intensify in the bankrupt country, local media reported.
Lebanese cities are witnessing long lines in front of bakeries and supermarkets where people wait hours to get a bag of subsidized Arabic bread, if available, in short supply as a years-long economic crisis depletes state coffers.
According to a representative of Lebanon's wheat importers, Lebanon imports 80% of its wheat from Ukraine.
But wheat-exporting Ukraine has struggled to sell and sow its crops since the start of the war in the country, leading consumers in poorer countries to be at the risk of poverty and sometimes famine.
Storing large quantities of wheat has also become a major problem in Lebanon after the deadly mega-blast at Beirut's port in August 2020, which heavily damaged the country's main grain silos.
Read more: Lebanese Minister says wheat enough for only 45 days
The price of subsidized Arabic bread started to go up after the onset of an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon in 2019.
The bakeries have started rationing subsided bread, with the government and bakeries putting the blame on each other for shortages.
While bakeries accuse cash-strapped authorities of failing to provide enough subsidized flour, the economy ministry rejects the responsibility.
Amin Salam, the Minister of Economy and Trade, accused bakeries of hoarding subsidized flour and using it for unsubsidized products like sweets.
Lebanon is struggling with an unprecedented financial crisis, labeled by the World Bank as one of the planet's worst since the 1850s.
The small Mediterranean country defaulted on its debt in 2020; the Lebanese currency has lost around 90% of its value on the black market, and the UN now considers four in five Lebanese to be living under the poverty line.