Lebanon’s lights could go out as electricity money runs out

BEIRUT, May 6 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s lights could go out this month as funds for power generation run out, a lawmaker said on Thursday, as the country grapples with deep economic crisis.

Lebanon’s parliament approved an emergency loan of $ 200 million to finance imports of fuel for power generation in March, but a loan review committee has yet to approve it.

“We must not forget that from May 15, a progressive darkness will begin,” said Nazih Negm, member of parliament, according to a government statement issued after his meeting with the interim finance and energy ministers.

The Lebanese have long learned to live with regular blackouts that last at least three hours a day in the capital and much longer in other neighborhoods, as the state’s power plants cannot meet the demand. demand. Many people depend on private generators.

But the financial crisis has exacerbated the heavily indebted country’s problems, as the government struggles to find enough hard currency to pay for fuel and other basic imports.

The loan, approved by lawmakers in March, is under review by a constitutional committee, which is studying its legality. The government resigned after a massive explosion in Beirut in August and is now acting on an interim basis.

“We hope that the constitutional committee will not take a month to make its decision because the situation cannot wait,” Negm said, according to the government statement.

Lebanon usually retains enough fuel for about two months because it is too expensive to keep strategic reserves any longer.

The economic collapse, the biggest crisis since the end of the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990, fueled unrest, blocked depositors from their accounts and hammered the currency, which lost about 90% of its value against to the dollar.

Reporting by Laila Bassam and Maha El Dahan; Editing by Alex Richardson

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