Government appoints EDL directors despite criticism

Lebanon’s already abysmal electricity grid has taken a massive hit over the past week with increased outages across the small Mediterranean country.
by Georgi Azar

7 July 2020 | 20:45

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 7 July 2020 | 20:45

The capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage. (AP Photo)

Lebanon’s government approved a new six-member board of directors for the state-owned Electricite Du Liban, drawing criticism for making nominations along sectarian lines.

Critics blasted the mechanism, saying it failed to take into account candidates’ ability to do the job.

“Gov has shown no interest in serious reforms. The requirements for EDL board are not fit for the board of a bankrupt utility, which will also foresee some sort of reforms & restructuring,” Energy consultant Jessica Obeid wrote on Twitter.

Lebanon’s already abysmal electricity grid has taken a massive hit over the past week with increased outages across the small Mediterranean country.

Beirut has seen its output drop to almost zero with people forced to rely on private generators.

Six men were selected from all-male shortlist of 18 candidates that represented Lebanon’s largest sects, which includes Christian Orthodox, Catholics, and Maronites, along with Sunni, Shia, and Druze candidates.

Lebanon’s energy sector, overseen by the Free Patriotic Movement for the better part of a decade, adds some $2 billion to the country’s yearly deficit.

Tarek Abdallah will represent the Sunni sect, Hussein Salloum the Shiite, Samer Salim the Druze, Karim Saba the Orthodox, Habib Srour the Catholics and Chadi Kreidy the Maronites.

Lebanon is currently reeling under the worst economic crisis in its 100-year-old history with negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a multi-billion dollar bailout hitting rock bottom.

The poverty rate has increased to almost 50 percent according to the World Bank as Lebanese struggle to put food on the table.

To alleviate surging food costs, the central bank announced Tuesday that it would subsidize the cost of importing and manufacturing food. The rate of 3,900 pounds per dollar will be secured for the import of 300 products, the central bank said.

This will also apply to other essential products like batteries, toothpaste, and disposable gloves.

Speaking on Tuesday, central bank governor Riad Salameh also maintained that fuel, wheat, and medicine will continue to be subsidized at the official 1,500 pounds per dollar rate

“The exchange rate of LL1,500 remains in effect for fuel, wheat, and medicines,” Salameh said, alluding again to the bank’s $20 billion foreign currency reserves.

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