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Lebanon: Race Against Time to Adopt Electricity Plan

Lebanon: Race Against Time to Adopt Electricity Plan

Tuesday, 26 March, 2019 - 10:45
A lighting pole is seen near buildings in Sidon, southern Lebanon August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/File Photo
Beirut - Youssef Diab
The Lebanese government is in a race against time to adopt the electricity plan and solve the severe crisis, which has so far incurred the state’s treasury around USD37b losses.

The ministerial committee is discussing the plan submitted by Energy Minister Nada Boustani to adopt it the soonest.

Boustani’s plan was described by economists as ‘ambitious and bold’. Most of the government’s components agree that the plan must be approved quickly, with the right of each party to give remarks.

The plan has the approval of the Future bloc so far, headed by Saad Hariri, and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) to which Boustani belongs. Sources close to Speaker Nabih Berri said the plan is worthwhile.

However, there is a political party that agrees to the plan but under certain conditions and priorities. Lebanon's Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman from the Lebanese Forces (LF) said that the energy minister plan needs discussion.

Abousleiman affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that there is optimism in reaching a final solution for the electricity crisis but there are three or four points that need thorough discussion.

He added that providing electricity 24/24 is absolutely a positive and required matter but what is more important is for the LF is to stop the deficit, limit the waste in electricity, and prevent violations in the grid.

Since the beginning of the civil war in 1990, Lebanon has been suffering from the electricity crisis because of a melange of wrong policies, the absence of visions and the corrupt networks.

MP Bilal Abdallah of the Democratic Gathering told the newspaper that the first remark on the electricity plan is not forming a new broad of directors and an organizing committee. Abdallah considered that not respecting laws keeps the debate going.

Economist Ghazi Wazni said that the energy minister warns of an electricity deficit of USD1.8 billion in 2019 i.e. USD150 million losses per month. “The faster the government studies and approves the plan, this would positively reflect the public finance,” he added.

Lebanon is threatened to be shrouded in darkness within two weeks, if financial credits to buy fuels were not provided, especially after Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil announced that the ministry will freeze expenditure and restrict it to paying the public servants’ salaries.

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