BEIRUT — Energy Minister Walid Fayad announced, following a cabinet session Wednesday, that the government has approved the electricity reform plan, adding, “I will do my best to establish the regulatory authority,” the state-run National News Agency reported.
Here’s what we know:
• Najib’s Mikati’s cabinet convened at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Grand Serail to tackle an agenda of 35 items, among them the electricity reform plan.
• The electricity sector reform plan was prepared by Fayad and structured around three axes, one of which is a short-term emergency measure: an agreement with Iraq to import fuel. Along with two US initiatives unveiled in August 2021 to import electricity from Jordan and gas from Egypt, which still require a financing agreement.
• According to Al Jadeed TV the cabinet endorsed the reform plan with amendments from a previous version, including the creation of an electricity regulatory authority in 2022 rather than in 2023 as demanded by the World Bank.
• At a cabinet meeting on Feb. 25, the ministers committed to organizing the electricity sector immediately by setting up a regulatory authority and appointing its members according to international standards, and by forming a ministerial commission responsible for revising Law 462 on the regulation of the electricity sector.
• Then acting Information Minister Abbas Halabi indicated in February that electricity prices would increase once electricity supply reaches 8-10 hours per day, but would also take into account people’s income.
• Reforming the electricity sector is a top requirement for the state to access assistance from the International Monetary Fund and donor countries.
• On Tuesday, the US ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, welcomed the “continuous progress” on the agreements to import electricity from Jordan and gas from Egypt, via Syria during a meeting with Fayad. The cabinet adopted the agreements at the end of February.
• To date, financing for the deals is not confirmed. The World Bank has indicated it would fund both projects on the condition that the government first adopts a reform plan for the electricity sector.