SUN 12 - 7 - 2020
Date: Jun 24, 2020
Source: The Daily Star
Lebanese Authorities move to thwart fuel smuggling, stockpiling
BEIRUT: In Lebanon’s latest attempt to stop the smuggling and stockpiling of subsidized fuel, authorities will begin from Wednesday monitoring the transactions of diesel distributors with their customers.

Economy Minister Raoul Nehme and Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar said during televised remarks from the Grand Serail Tuesday that the public prosecutor would pursue distributors who stockpile fuel or sell it at inflated prices.

“People are stockpiling diesel out of fear that the price will increase and that [state] support will be lifted. This is leading to a shortage of diesel and is very dangerous,” Ghajar said. “We informed the public prosecutor that monopolizing and hoarding diesel is illegal and punishable by law.”

Ghajar denied that there were any plans to lift fuel subsidies, adding that the ministry had “no issue with importing diesel” and was importing enough for the local market. He indicated that certain people had tripled the amount they were purchasing and then storing it to sell at higher prices later.

Nehme said a new mechanism would go into effect Wednesday whereby fuel distributors must provide the Economy Ministry with information each week on who they sold fuel to, how much they sold, and at what price.

He warned that those who did not provide the required information each Friday would be struck from the list of distributors eligible to receive fuel from the ministry.

“This information will let us know not just whether they distributed it or not, but to whom, and will help us also to contain smuggling,” he added.

Nehme clarified that officials would be out on the ground to check up on the reported transactions, and that they would seek receipts that prove the transactions took place.

Large volumes of subsidized diesel are being smuggled from Lebanon to Syria, where the price of fuel is more expensive.

The Central Bank subsidizes fuel by allocating currency for its import at a rate of LL1,507.5 to the dollar, rather than the market price, which was around LL6,000 Tuesday.

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