BEIRUT — Electricité du Liban (EDL) bills can now be paid in cash in either dollars or lira, the Ministry of Energy announced on Wednesday.
The ministry stated that it received approval from the Ministry of Justice regarding the measure, which needs to be ratified by EDL's Board of Directors before coming into effect. EDL is currently studying the measure, which it believes will help address its shortage of US dollars to pay for fuel orders.
"Citizens can choose the currency that suits them. The exchange rate adopted for bills is LL 103,000 (compared to LL 89,000 per dollar in the parallel market currently). This will encourage people to pay in dollars to save money and will provide EDL with the dollars it needs to increase the power supply," the Energy Ministry concluded.
In early September, an EDL spokesperson stated that the office had initiated a process to request the dollarization of its rates, a first for the public sector, because "the Banque du Liban was not allowing them to transfer their funds in dollars."
"We need cash to buy fuel and maintain infrastructure," the spokesperson explained.
The acting governor of the Lebanese Central Bank, Wassim Manssouri, announced during his tenure that he would not spend any more foreign currency without a law passed by Parliament.
On Tuesday, protesters demonstrated outside EDL's headquarters, claiming they were being charged high bills for inadequate public service.
EDL only provides a few hours of electricity per day currently, as Lebanon's economic crisis continues. The country's power issue started far before the 2019 crisis however: the office has faced chronic power production issues since the end of the civil war in 1990.