BEIRUT — President Michel Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday granted their “exceptional approval” to reverse fuel subsidies’ removal, hike employees’ daily transportation allowance and provide additional funding to public sector employees.
Here’s what we know:
• Gasoline, diesel and cooking gas imports will be financed at an exchange rate of LL8,000 to the US dollar instead of LL3,900, while the daily transportation allowance will increase from LL8,000 to LL24,000, the president’s press office said in a statement following a meeting on Saturday afternoon in Baabda between Aoun, Diab, central bank head Riad Salameh, caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni and caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar.
• The Energy Ministry is tasked with setting the new fuel prices, the statement added.
• Banque du Liban will allocate the Finance Ministry up to $225 million until the end of September to fund the new subsidy program, the announcement said. The state is required to pack back the allocation in 2022.
• Public sector employees, including contractors, security forces, judges, education professionals and retirees who benefit from a retirement pension, will receive a “social assistance” payment equivalent to their monthly salary. The payment will be disbursed in two equal instalments. The statement added that the Finance Ministry is tasked with preparing a feasibility study to potentially include municipality employees in this scheme.
• The announcement reverses BDL’s decision on Aug. 11 to halt fuel subsidies, despite Salameh affirming last week that he would not fund subsidies without a directive from Parliament.
• Parliament took a “position” on Friday in favor of speeding up the implementation of the caretaker government’s ration cards program that aims to replace the current subsidies. MPs asked the cabinet to finalize it before the end of September.