Energy minister tells Lebanese to prepare for end of gasoline subsidy

by Reuters
Thursday, 17 June 2021 19:04 GMT

BEIRUT, June 17 (Reuters) - Lebanon's energy minister said on Thursday the country's gasoline subsidy was unsustainable and would eventually come to an end.

"We have to get used to and be convinced that this subsidy that we benefited from for a year or a year and a half .... will end," Raymond Ghajar said after a parliamentary meeting.

Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic crisis that is posing the worst threat to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The central bank is running out of reserves to fund a programme that subsidises basic goods such as wheat, fuel and medicine.

Shortages of fuel in past weeks have forced Lebanese motorists to queue for hours to get barely any gasoline with squabbles erupting amongst frustrated citizens.

The subsidy programme costs Lebanon around $6 billion a year, half of which are spent on fuel.

"Those who can't pay 200,000 Lebanese pounds for a tank should stop using a car and use something else," Ghajar said.

The minister added that 200,000 pounds, or around $13 at the informal market rate, reflected the real value of the gasoline whereas currently it was only charged at 40,000 pounds. (Reporting By Laila Bassam and Maha El Dahan Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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