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USAID Awards UAlbany $17 Million to Bolster Democracy in Lebanon

Contact: Michael Parker (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 20, 2004) -The Center for Legislative Development (CLD) at the University at Albany has been awarded a three-year, $17 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue its efforts to strengthen municipal institutions in Lebanon and increase their effectiveness in support of democracy. The grant was announced Tuesday in a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 dignitaries, parliament members and municipal officials held at Unesco Palace in Beirut. An agreement was signed with the Interior and Municipalities Ministry of Lebanon, USAID and University at Albany CLD representatives.

Conceived in 1993 by the late Abdo Baaklini, a professor with UAlbany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and former director of CLD, the Lebanon program fulfills key USAID local and regional objectives by promoting democracy and good governance.

“Organizing the work of local government in a transparent way has enabled municipalities to plan and implement essential social and economic projects,” said USAID mission director Raouf Youssef, in a recent statement. “The administrative and financial work has helped in improving the income of many municipalities, which witnessed an income increase of 200 and 300 percent in the last three years.”

“We greatly appreciate USAID’s investment in the Center for Legislative Development’s efforts to strengthen democracy in Lebanon,” said UAlbany Interim President John R. Ryan. “This is a testament to the foresight of Dr. Baaklini, who designed a program with an understanding of the history of Lebanese people and knowledge of what it would take to insure the development of a successful and accountable government.”

“By strengthening the role of local government in economic development, encouraging e-government and strengthening municipal administrative and financial capacities, we are enhancing the foundations of democracy in Lebanon,” said CLD Director Robert Nakamura. “We are honored that USAID has renewed its commitment to support the vision of Dr. Baaklini and the leadership of Lebanon Country Director Mahmoud Batlouni.”

“Municipalities, the intermediary government, the various oversight agencies, as well as the Lebanese Parliament will act capably and efficiently, by modern standards, once certain weaknesses in their structure have been addressed,” said Batlouni. “We have developed most of the required information systems and databases for the municipalities. This will bring significant savings in resources and will permit immediate implementation.”

CLD has been working with USAID in Lebanon since 1993, and has previously implemented a multi-phase $25 million program that included technical assistance to Parliament, several executive agencies, and some municipalities.


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