BEIRUT — George Brax, spokesperson for the syndicate of gas station owners, on Friday called on politicians and Banque du Liban Gov. Riad Salameh to agree on the fate of fuel subsidies before fuel stocks run out at stations across the country.
Here’s what we know:
• “The population, the owners of service stations and the fuel industry as a whole are paying a high price for the discord between the political authorities and Banque du Liban, and it is the Lebanese who are suffering,” Brax said in a statement, calling on officials and Salameh to restore normal distribution of fuel to the market before gas station reserves run out and the country is plunged into total darkness and paralyzed by the forced stoppage of traffic.
• Salameh on Wednesday announced that subsidies on fuel would be removed, provoking protests and panic across the country. Salameh met with President Michel Aoun on Thursday, who asked him to rescind the decision, but Salameh said he could no longer keep the subsidies on fuel imports in place without having to draw on BDL’s mandatory reserves, which he said requires the adoption of a law in Parliament.
• BDL’s reserves have plummeted since late 2019 and are now estimated to stand at as low as $14 billion or less.*
• Since BDL’s decision was announced, the Energy Ministry has refrained from issuing new fuel prices. Amid the ensuing confusion about the future of prices, most gas stations across the country have closed, while long queues have formed in front of the few establishments still open. In Saida, the few gasoline pumps open have been overrun since 5 a.m., L’Orient-Le Jour’s correspondent in the south Mountasser Abdallah reports. In the Bekaa, all the stations between Chtaura and Zahle have closed off access to their pumps, according to L’Orient-Le Jour’s correspondent Sarah Abdallah.
• If the lifting of subsidies is effectively applied, it would generate a 344 percent increase in the price of gasoline and about 387 percent increase in that of diesel.
• This situation has aroused the desperation and anger of Lebanon’s population. Several roads across the country were blocked by demonstrators Friday morning. At the southern exit of Beirut, protesters closed the road at the Sultan Ibrahim restaurant in Jnah. In the north, the road to Beddawi was blocked. In the Bekaa, demonstrators temporarily stopped traffic along the Chtaura-Masnaa road, while in Saida, several roads were cut.
*CORRECTION: This article originally originally stated that BDL’s foreign reserves currently amount to about $15 billion; in fact, BDL’s reserves now amount to some $14 billion or less. It has also been updated to more accurately characterize the change in its foreign currency reserves since 2019.
BEIRUT — George Brax, spokesperson for the syndicate of gas station owners, on Friday called on politicians and Banque du Liban Gov. Riad Salameh to agree on the fate of fuel subsidies before fuel stocks run out at stations across the country.Here’s what we know: • “The population, the owners of service stations and the fuel industry as a whole are paying a high price for...