BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanon’s central bank lifted its remaining subsidies on fuel yesterday, gas station owners said, ending a year-long process of scaling back on the expensive program.
The Central Bank over a year ago announced it would gradually lift fuel subsidies, to slow down the draining of its foreign exchange reserves. Fuel subsidies once cost the cash-strapped country some USD3 billion annually. Last week, it subsidized just 20 per cent of the cost of fuel imports.
Lebanon is in the throes of a crippling economic crisis that has plunged three-quarters of its population into poverty and decimated the value of the Lebanese pound against the dollar by around 90 per cent. The World Bank has described the collapse as one of the worst in the world in the last 150 years.
Now, gas station owners will price fuel at the country’s “parallel market rate” – also known as the black market rate, Gas Station Owners’ Syndicate spokesperson George Brax told The Associated Press.