Lebanon’s energy minister said on Thursday that the country’s petrol subsidy was unsustainable and would eventually come to an end. “We have to get used to and be convinced that this subsidy that we benefitted from for a year or a year and a half … will end,” Raymond Ghajar said after a parliamentary meeting.
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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 petrol, with squabbles erupting amongst frustrated citizens. The subsidy programme costs Lebanon around $6bn a year,
half of which is 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 petrol whereas currently it was only charged at 40,000 pounds.