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EDL must await Cabinet approval of fuel oil funds: finance minister

Electricite du Liban building. (The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: The Finance Ministry will not issue letters of credit to Electricity du Liban without the approval of the government, Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said Wednesday.

Khalil added that he had filed a written request with the Cabinet, asking it to approve the release of funds by the ministry to allow EDL to buy fuel oil.

“I will not be held responsible for the consequences of not issuing letters of credit, as the release of such funds under previous government was not based on a clear procedure and only happened under exceptional circumstances, despite [the funds] amounting to a large share of the Treasury’s deficit,” he said.

The cost of fuel oil represents more than 85 percent of EDL’s annual losses, which are paid for with funds from Treasury.

According to the law, the Cabinet is not authorized to spend above the last budget ceiling, approved by Parliament in 2005.

The delay in the allocation of funds for EDL’s purchase of fuel oil on several occasions previously has led to increased power rationing across Lebanon.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 13, 2014, on page 5.

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