BEIRUT: Lebanon's prime minister Hassan Diab rejected President Michel Aoun's call to convene the cabinet to discuss the country's fuel crisis, saying such a meeting fell outside the caretaker cabinet's constitutional duties, Diab said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s oil directorate said on Friday that oil importers and facilities must supply the quantities of fuel they had already purchased before the central bank announced the effective lifting of subsidies on Wednesday night.
Lebanon’s government has objected to the central bank’s move, leading to a stalemate at the lowest point of a two-year financial crisis that has seen the Lebanese pound lose 90 percent of its value and driven more than half the population into poverty.
Importers warned of a huge shortage of already scarce fuel, and demanded that the same exchange rate must be used for buying and selling fuel.
The central bank announced on Wednesday it would only offer lines of credit at the market price for the Lebanese pound, which is more than 20,000 pounds to the dollar, much higher than the official rate of 1,500 and the most recent rate of 3,900 offered to importers beginning in June.
The quantities sold at that price must be sold while importers await the new exchange rate announcement from the central bank, the directorate said.
It also “called on all to assume their responsibilities in ensuring the necessary lines of credit in order to secure fuel supply,” it said.
That supply was in crisis on Friday, as extended blackouts continued across Lebanon, and those petrol stations that still had a fuel supply saw hours-long lines.
Local media reported the hijacking of a fuel tanker and a shooting at a station, incidents which have recurred over the past week.