Hassan Diab, the Caretaker Prime Minister, wrote to Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni, requesting that he warn BDL Governor Riad Salameh that his decision to lift fuel subsidies breaches a statute passed by Parliament and opposes the government’s objective of subsidy rationalization.
“Since the government has consistently underlined the necessity of reducing subsidies (rather than lifting them), in parallel with the approval of the financing card that would help citizens bear the expense of rationalization,” the letter adds.
Whereas the Parliament has recently approved the government’s financing card project and adopted its policy of rationalizing subsidies in parallel with approving the financing card.
In implementation of the government’s policy enshrined under the aforementioned law, any decision to lift subsidies now and immediately constitutes a clear violation of the government’s policy and the provisions of this law.
Therefore, we ask you to notify the Banque du Liban, through the government commissioner, of the contents of this letter to act accordingly and take the necessary action as quickly as possible.
Diab called for an emergency ministerial meeting in the afternoon at the Grand Serail to deliberate on the central bank governor’s move.
Prime Minister Diab issued the following statement:
I have long resisted the decision to lift subsidies, and I am still against this decision; I have also been subject to many accusations by political forces calling for subsidies to be lifted, for they live in their ivory towers and do not know anything about the suffering of the Lebanese people.
The Governor of the Banque du Liban has taken the decision to lift subsidies, which is against the law, and also does not take into account the reality of the deep living and social crisis.
I was and still am against lifting subsidies before giving people compensation, even partially, for rationalizing subsidies. Two days ago, we finalized the mechanism for implementing the financing card, and the implementation will begin soon. The decision of lifting subsidies could have waited until the financing card’s operationalization and the rationalization of subsidies in accordance with to the government’s plan.