BEIRUT: The Cabinet authorized, in its session Thursday, the Energy and Finance ministries to mull funding for a $305 million project aimed at boosting power supply by 260 megawatts.
“[The Cabinet] authorizes the finance and energy ministers to negotiate funding needed to install [power production] units at the Zouk and Jiyyeh power plants,” Information Minister Walid Daouk said.
But a source close to the Cabinet said ministers aimed to secure a reduction in the cost of the project awarded in a tender last year to Danish power contractor BWSC and the German MAN Group.
According to the reports, HSBC bank and the Danish government has offered flexible loans for 85 percent of the project cost.
The source stressed that the government intended to proceed with the project even if the companies refused to lower the price.
Upgrading the two power plants is part of the government’s efforts to build new plants and rehabilitate existing ones.
Lebanon’s current electricity production stands at around 1,500 MW, while demand soars above 2,400 MW.
The Energy Ministry said earlier this month it would relaunch a multi-million-dollar tender for the construction of a new power generation unit at Deir Ammar.
This followed unsuccessful price reduction negotiations with the Lebanese-Spanish consortium that won the bid.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s vehicle inspection centers will resume work Friday, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told The Daily Star Thursday, after the Cabinet decided to renew for six months the contract with the company operating the premises.
The Directorate of the Inspection Centers issued a statement earlier this month saying the centers would remain temporarily closed until Jan. 15 due to maintenance work.
Security sources told The Daily Star earlier in January that the real reason the centers would close was the expiration of the contract, and not maintenance work as claimed.
Charbel said the Cabinet would launch a tender during the six-month period with new contract conditions for the company.
“It might still be the same existing company today ... this will depend on the outcome of the tender,” Charbel said.