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French Version


Lebanese industrialist slams government for not subsidizing red diesel price

A leading industrial lobbyist accused the Lebanese government of seeking to profit from the recent gasoil deal with Kuwait on the account of the industrial sector and threatened to take appropriate actions.

"The government is getting red diesel from Kuwait at approximately $540 per thousand liters and selling it back to us at $640 per thousand liters, using the proceeds to make up for EDL's losses," the president of the Lebanese Industrialist Association Fadi Abboud told The Daily Star.

EDL is the only Lebanese electricity company and is state-owned. The main issue is the lack of transparency in the operations and dealings of the state. This affects key constituencies of the Lebanese economy, argued Abboud. "We never really know either the prices or the quantities negotiated and it has always been like that. This time we're fed up."

Abboud said Premier Fouad Siniora and Energy Minister Mohammad Fneish in a letter promised to help the industrial sector to get preferential rates on oil derivatives.

Fneish said that the quantities imported from Kuwait barely meet the demands of EDL. "Eventually we may sell diesel to them but the terms will be discussed in due time. But I don't think the price will be subsidized" he said.

In response to the claim that the government was trying to profit from the preferential Kuwaiti deal, Fneish answered: "This is simply not true."

Abboud said that "there is a monopoly on red diesel," as the government is the only party allowed to import such oil derivatives. Recently, the government said that it will buy oil and oil derivatives directly from oil producing countries.

Abboud urged the liberalization of "the diesel industry so that we can import on our own."
Initially, the government imported from any foreign companies from Russia to Algeria.

Fneish said earlier that the government was negotiating with several countries to get other agreements. He also said the priority for the sector was a shift in the long-term to gas as the main source of energy.

Abboud said the "pricing Kuwait has offered to Lebanon should reduce diesel prices on local markets to $500 per thousand liters, without VAT." Abboud said he was puzzled by the fact the government was still pricing diesel every Thursday "knowing the deal with Kuwait is for the long-term."

Beirut 24-09-2005
Bechir Saade
The Daily Star



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