Gas stations owners start an open-ended strike due to issues with fuel distributors
Gas stations are launching an open-ended strike today. George Brax, a spokesperson for the gas station owners’ syndicate, blamed the closure on fuel distributors, who he said are demanding to be paid in cash US dollars. According to Brax, gas station owners do not have access to dollars provided at the Sayrafa rate, unlike fuel importers, and therefore suffer a loss of LL35,000 per 20 liters of gasoline. A representative for fuel distributors pointed the finger at bank charges, saying that BDL has stopped its practice of subsidizing 85 percent of the cost of gasoline at the Sayrafa rate, meaning that importers must buy dollars from the market at a higher rate.
Following numerous meetings, the gasoline import subsidy mechanism was finally modified, and the ratio of US dollars obtainable at BDL's Sayrafa rate increased from 85 percent to 100 percent, announced Georges Brax, spokesman for the gas station owners' syndicate, on Thursday evening. This announcement was made after numerous meetings between Energy Minister Walid Fayad and several players in the sector, ranging from service stations to importers and distributors. The minister also spoke with the Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh, asking him to "maintain a mechanism for subsidizing fuel imports for two months," according to Brax. This would leave the newly announced measures in place until mid-May, coinciding with Lebanon's May 15 parliamentary elections. Thursday afternoon, the Energy Ministry published the new prices for diesel fuel and heating oil, two fuels that are no longer subsidized by the central bank. A few hours later, new gasoline prices, now 100 percent subsidized, followed.