Lebanon News

Lebanon Cabinet approves electricity reforms plan

President Michel Aoun chairs a Cabinet session at the Baabda Palace, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon's Cabinet Tuesday approved an electricity reforms plan following a three-hour meeting at Baabda Palace headed by President Michel Aoun.

"All concerns have been discussed," Information Minister Melhem Riachi said after the meeting, describing the plan as an "initial" step.

Riachi added that Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil will hold a news conference next week to present the plan.

Speaking ahead of the session, several ministers said that they had remarks on the proposed plan. Minister of State for Planning Michel Pharaon affirmed that the plan "will be endorsed, but notes and suggestions should be taken."

Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri held a closed-door meeting before the session.

Abi Khalil has called for developing electrical power plants with the private sector, generating solar power via facilities on the coast, as well as making use of Lebanon’s nascent natural gas industry.

Local media reported that Abi Khalil has also called for bringing in two additional Turkish ships to generate 800 megawatts.

When asked about whether they will be from the same company or not, Riachi said that "there will be calls for bidding with full transparency under the law."

"The priority is to lease energy so that we have an illuminated Lebanon in 2017 for 23 or 24 hours per day," he said.

Just before departing Beirut for Jordan for the Arab League Summit in Amman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the press, "Starting May, citizens will notice an improvement with the electricity."

The proposed reforms have received mixed reactions. Some ministers have been skeptical about the plan, particularly due to its high cost-factor.

Lebanon has been plagued by a chronic electricity crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 Civil War, with successive governments failing to make large investments to improve the ailing sector and its outdated infrastructure.

It is common for residents to pay additional costs for external generators to compensate for frequent power cuts, if they can afford it.

 

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