Fueling car in Lebanon now more than salary

A revised price list published by the energy ministry set the cost of 20 liters of 95-octane fuel at 302,700 Lebanese pounds, or about $15 at the black market rate

  
Cars stand in line at a gas station as they wait to fuel up in Damour, Lebanon June 29, 2021.

Cars stand in line at a gas station as they wait to fuel up in Damour, Lebanon June 29, 2021.

REUTERS/Aziz Taher

BEIRUT: Filling a car with fuel in Lebanon cost more than the monthly minimum wage from Wednesday, after authorities effectively ended subsidies.

A revised price list published by the energy ministry set the cost of 20 liters of 95-octane fuel at 302,700 Lebanese pounds, or about $15 at the black market rate and five times the price set at the end of June.

To fill a medium-sized vehicle’s tank, Lebanese would now have to pay more than the monthly minimum wage of 675,000 pounds, at a time when nearly 80 percent of the population is living below the poverty line.

The revised price “marks a complete lifting of petroleum subsidies,” said Fadi Abou Chakra of the fuel distributors’ association. “The fuel price hike will cause the cost of services to also increase, especially transport.”

The ministry also raised the price of diesel and cooking gas after a drop in the value of the pound against the US dollar on the black market. The pound was selling for about 20,500 to the dollar, its lowest value in months.

The currency collapse is focusing attention on a forensic audit of Lebanon’s central bank, a key demand of the International Monetary Fund as part of reforms to unlock funds for a potential bailout.

President Michel Aoun on Wednesday met a delegation from the professional services firm Alvarez and Marsal, who told him their audit of the bank’s accounts would begin on Thursday morning. Aoun urged them to work quickly because of the urgency of the task. IMF official Jihad Azour said: “Last time we had a full update of the situation was August 2020, before the resignation of the previous government. Many things have happened since and we need to update the numbers and have a new baseline,” he said.

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