08/13/2021, 12.53
LEBANON
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Protests against the end of fuel subsidies

Protesters blocked the streets of the capital after the Central Bank's decision to stop subsidising fuel imports. Now fuel could cost five times more. Hassan Diab’s caretaker government did not approve the decision, causing yet another stalemate.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Protesters have blocked several streets in the capital in protest against the Central Bank's decision to suspend fuel subsidies.

In the southern village of Zahrani, a motorist who was trying to drive through protesters hit and injured a person.

Last Monday, at least three people were killed as a result of clashes at service stations.

Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab described the decision by Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh as "irresponsible" and illegal.

The government announced that it would not implement Salameh's decision, creating a stalemate.

Diab added that service stations will continue to sell gasoline and diesel at agreed prices in the coming days.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the Central Bank informed the government that it could no longer subsidise fuel imports because of decreasing reserves.

Many gas stations were closed yesterday, and some experts expect that without subsidies, fuel could cost five times as much.

The Central Bank yesterday reiterated its decision noting that subsidies have helped businessmen, not people in need.

Despite US$ 800 million in subsidies in July, fuel products remain in short supply. Shortages are blamed on smuggling and the government's inability to secure supplies.

Lebanon's economic and financial meltdown began in 2019 pushing more than half of the population below the poverty line.

The situation has worsened due to the inability of Lebanese political leaders to agree on a new government that could negotiate an aid package with the International Monetary Fund.

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