The price of gasoline imports in Lebanon has turned into a daily nightmare for the Lebanese, who are left to suffer the brunt of a crippling economic crisis that has swept the Mediterranean nation since late 2019.
The Central Bank said last year that it would stop providing dollars at heavily subsidized exchange rates due to a dwindling supply of foreign currency reserves, but it continued to do so at a sub-market rate on its Sayrafa exchange platform.
However, in recent weeks, the number of dollars provided via Sayrafa has been gradually reduced as part of a wider plan to end subsidies for most goods amid a financial collapse that has entered its fourth year.
The crisis has forced government subsidies to decline. At the beginning of this week, the Central Bank lifted its remaining subsidies on fuel.
Fuel, which is one of the basic commodities in the world and in Lebanon, has changed the lifestyle of the Lebanese, making transportation a luxury available only for well-off families.
Losing fuel subsidies has dealt a severe blow to the Lebanese who need their cars daily, especially considering the near non-existent public transportation in the country.
The price for 20 liters of gasoline jumped by 20,000 pounds on Monday, a significant increase compared with regular daily fluctuations of a few thousand pounds in the weeks prior.
According to recent data, the average amount of fuel consumed daily in Lebanon dropped 14% in the first seven months of 2022 compared to the same period of the previous year.
This significant rise in prices has led to a decline in consumption.
The average daily consumption in 2021 stood at 328,000 liters per day but decreased to 281,000 liters per day this year – a decline of 47,000 liters, or 14.3%.
Besides dwindling numbers, the reality on the ground remains ever more tragic with car rides no longer being affordable to most families who relied on them to get from one point to another.
The burden of rising fuel prices falls heavily on the Lebanese population, three-quarters of which has been plunged into poverty by the economic crisis that decimated the value of the Lebanese pound against the dollar by about 90%.