Lebanon’s industrialists to import diesel directly from the market

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has repeatedly said that BDL can no longer support the import of diesel for the industrialists

  
A worker wearing a protective face mask fills up a car with fuel, at a gas station in Beirut, Lebanon June 18, 2021.

A worker wearing a protective face mask fills up a car with fuel, at a gas station in Beirut, Lebanon June 18, 2021.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Monday allowed local industrialists to import diesel directly to operate their factories that count on this commodity to stay in business.

“After deliberation with President Michel Aoun and Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar, it was agreed that a discussion would be conducted between industrialists in the direct import of diesel in accordance with Resolution 66/2004, which allows industrialists to directly import oil derivatives, without prior permission. The energy minister offered to provide facilities when necessary, for any import permit, and stressed his ministry’s readiness to assist in import and storage of petroleum materials,” Industry Minister Imad Hoballah told reporters after the meeting between the industrialists and Aoun at Baabda Palace.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has repeatedly said that BDL can no longer support the import of diesel for the industrialists.

The minister reminded that industrialists have recently played an important role in ensuring social and economic security of the Lebanese.

“On this occasion, we visited his excellency to discuss how to secure fuel to factories which are suffering from a major problem due to power outages and excessive reliance on generators and lifting of fuel subsidies,” Hoballah said.

Asked if the bill will be reduced in case the industrialists imported diesel directly, the minister said there is no other choice today except by easing the burden on the state and the people.

“Subsidies for diesel will stop, and we consider it stopped. Therefore, we say that industrialists will exert all capabilities to be able to directly import these materials with the support of the Energy Ministry. If they decide to import these materials through private companies, then they are also entitled to do so in accordance with Resolution 66/2004,” Hoballah explained.

Asked if there are guarantees these materials will be traded, the minister said that since they are not subsidized, it doesn’t matter.

“The industrialist will pay dues and will receive these materials unsubsidized. Therefore, they will not trade neither with the money of the people nor with depositors’ money. Thus, we do not count on the Central Bank. The industrialist who imports diesel pays what he owes in US dollars, and has the right to act to secure these materials for factories, not to trade it,” Hoballah said.

The Vice Chairman of the Industrialists Association George Nasrawi said that the problem is that many factories have stopped their production, “and as you know that industry is an integrated cycle in itself.”

“If some factories stop producing their goods, others will be affected, and the delivery of some products to the retail markets in the country will stop. We are going through a very dangerous stage, and today’s meeting bared positive responses from the president,” Nasrawi said.

He added that the energy minister also wished to develop a plan through which industrialists can ensure the continuity of the presence of diesel, and this takes days to find a mechanism for its implementation and study.

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