People sit by the Bisri river, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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The deadline for a $474-million World Bank loan to fund a crucial water-supply project that is pending approval from Parliament was extended Monday with hours to spare, a move that could have wide-reaching consequences for Lebanon's international credibility.Ferid Belhaj, director of the Middle East Department of the World Bank, warned that the deferral, which now gives Parliament until Dec. 31 to convene and vote on the project that would finance the construction of a dam in south Lebanon, would be the "first and last" granted to Lebanon, in an interview with The Daily Star Tuesday. The World Bank had approved the project, which at $474 million is its largest ever in Lebanon, in October 2014 .The World Bank has a finite amount of money, Belhaj stressed, so if Lebanon fails to ratify the plan by December, the funds currently mobilized for the Bisri dam will be redeployed elsewhere.
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