Lebanon’s money for power generation could run out at the end of March, minister says
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s energy ministry cannot pay for fuel to generate electricity beyond March unless additional funding is approved, the acting minister of the government said on Tuesday. ‘Energy.
Lebanon, which is grappling with a deep financial crisis triggered by a mountain of debt, already lacks power generation capacity, so homes and businesses face power outages for several hours a day, forcing many turn to private generators.
“We are heading for a difficult situation, if there is no fuel there will be no electricity,” Raymond Ghajar told Reuters.
The minister said he had asked the president, the acting prime minister and the head of parliament to approve an emergency loan for the national electricity company worth 1.5 trillion Lebanese pounds (996 million dollars at the official rate) to buy more fuel.
Ghajar said earlier this month that Lebanon typically only keeps enough fuel for a few months because it is too expensive for the country to hold strategic reserves for six months.
Lebanon’s financial collapse, the biggest crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, fueled unrest, blocked depositors from their accounts and triggered a currency collapse, which lost 80% of its value by against the dollar.
Although some official transactions are still carried out at the official Lebanese pound rate before the crisis of 1,500 per dollar, the market value of the currency has fallen to over 9,000.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet, who resigned after the massive explosion in Beirut’s port on August 4, are playing the role of gatekeeper as rowdy politicians failed to agree on the formation of a new government, leaving Lebanon without a rudder as swathes of the nation have been plunged into poverty.
Because it acts on an interim basis, the cabinet cannot hold meetings to approve a budget.
($ 1 = 1,505.5,000 Lebanese pounds)
Reporting by Laila Bassam; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Edmund Blair