Lebanon: Towards Change and Reform by Marlene Sabeh

After years of delays due to corruption, internal infighting, political stalemates, and a deficit incurred by pervasive electricity theft, massive subsidies, and the detrimental effects of the Syrian migration crisis, Lebanon’s Energy Minister Mrs. Nada Boustany succeeded at devising a new energy plan deemed to reform the state electricity company, introduce new pricing policies, and boost power production. Indeed, the minister immediately went to work with advisors in drafting an electricity overhaul after assuming the electricity portfolio in late January, primarily focusing on the modernization of the transmission grid, adding several gigawatts-worth of gas-fired powergen capacity while decommissioning old steam turbine plants, and shifting fuel supply away from fuel oil and expensive diesel imports toward cheaper (and cleaner) natural gas. Additionally, the plan is expected to expedite long-delayed efforts to push forward with renewable energy.

This plan will also reduce the budget deficit by 2020, as elaborated by the experts in the field: The 180% increase in Electricity du Liban's (EDL) tariffs (frozen and subsidized since 1994), and the elimination of private generator bills for consumers will reflect in a 10.7% to 14.5% decrease in the electricity bill, depending on the size of consumption. The plan is considered a very positive move as all international ratings companies will see that Lebanon is indeed taking real steps to reform the electricity sector and will be able to reduce the $1.8 billion EDL deficit, and subsequently the national $5.5 billion deficit; a stipulation from international donors at the Paris CEDRE Conference who pledged more than $11 billion in soft loans and grants. Furthermore, both Siemens and General Electric have been heavily linked to the master plan and in all likelihood, the ministry will opt to pursue an overhaul very similar to that set out last year by the World Bank and then Energy Minister Mr. Cesar Abi Khalil (Minister Boustany was serving as an advisor) as part of the Capital Investment Plan (CIP) created for the CEDRE conference.

Aside from its innovative and advanced technical mechanisms, the new energy plan has proven that this tenure is relentlessly working toward reforming Lebanon’s sectors, and efficiently fighting corruption. In the midst of the din of criticism, disapprovals, and condemnations, the free (undeterred) patriots of Lebanon still believe in the change and reform. They continue to work hard toward implementing suitable solutions for convoluted inherited problems, defying destructive impasses.

Congratulations to Lebanon for overcoming this major obstacle. Congratulations to Minister Boustany who proved, within a very short period of time, that she is a true patriot; qualified to fulfill her duties and determined to serve her country.

blog comments powered by Disqus