MEPs approve EDL Treasury loan amid LF and PSP objection – Naharnet

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Joint parliamentary committees on Tuesday approved a £ 300 billion Treasury loan for Electricité du Liban, the Lebanese state-run electricity producer, amid objection from MPs from the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party .

“The central problem was in the equation that was proposed – either the loan or the obscurity – and the deputies were not at all satisfied, seeing this as a form of blackmail because this question will always be repeated”, said said Vice President Elie Ferzli, who chaired the meeting, said.

“Personally, I clearly sympathized with the proposal of the Rassemblement Démocratique et République forte blocs, which called for refraining from approving the bill and rather issuing a recommendation and stressing that there is an alternative choice, which is the formation of a government, ”Ferzli added.

“I always insist that the real way out is the formation of a government,” he continued.

Noting that the loan will be paid from “depositors’ money at the central bank, which amounts to $ 17 billion,” Ferzli said, said the deputies categorically refused to “finance our negative situation”.

“Next time – God willing after a government is formed and on the road to salvation – no loan should be approved under the slogan ‘darkness or approval.’ Next time we will say: go or dark! Ferzli added.

Acting Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar warned Thursday that the country would plunge into “total darkness” at the end of the month if no money was guaranteed to buy fuel for power plants.

Power cuts have been common in Lebanon since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, forcing the Lebanese to pay a second electricity bill to private generators for three to 12 hours a day during blackouts.

Today, the country faces its worst economic crisis in decades and a rapid shortage of hard currency to support imports.

Ghajar warned that the national electricity company, EDL, was strapped for cash.

Ghajar, speaking after meeting with President Michel Aoun, warned of repercussions on all sectors in the event of a power cut.

“Imagine your life without electricity, the internet, phones, hospitals or vaccines… It’s surreal to live in the 21st century without electricity,” he said.

Ghajar has requested emergency funding to keep the power company providing electricity until a larger loan is approved by parliament.

Until now, the power company has been operating on the remnants of a loan allocated under the 2020 budget, but the 2021 budget has yet to be adopted as the country is grappling with a dual economic and political crisis. .

Lebanon has been importing fuel shipment by shipment since the start of the year, after a contract with a subsidiary of Algerian state-owned Sonatrach expired and was not renewed.

Social media users have rampaged over Ghajar’s comments.

“What is surreal is that we have these officials in charge,” wrote one, echoing the widespread feeling that the country’s political elite are incompetent or corrupt and responsible for the country’s many crises. .

The international community has long called for a complete overhaul of the electricity sector, which has cost the government more than $ 40 billion since the end of the war.

The Lebanese government resigned after a massive explosion in Beirut last summer that killed more than 200 people, but a deeply divided political class failed to agree on a cabinet to replace it.

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