Lebanon’s incoming minister of energy announced on Friday new price hikes for gasoline of nearly 40%, effectively narrowing the fuel subsidy.
This raises the price of 20 liters of 95-octane gas to 174,300 Lebanese pounds, and 98-octane gas to 180,000 Lebanese pounds. That is between $116 and $120 respectively, according to the official rate.
The price increase does not fully lift the gasoline subsidy, a step expected to take place soon.
"This is the stage before last of lifting the subsidy," Georges Braks, a member of the Petrol Station Owners' syndicate said. "The subsidy on fuel I imagine from now till the end of the month will go to the last stage and be lifted completely and all of fuel will then be non-subsidized."
Amid the economic crisis, the local currency has been in a free fall, and there are multiple exchange rates, including one set by the central bank to organize imports. The currency pegged for 30 years to the dollar at 1,500 Lebanese pounds now trades on the black market at ten times that rate.
Long queues outside gas stations have often descended into chaos or violence and caused major traffic jams. Gas stations rationed the amount of gasoline they distributed.
Prices of diesel for power generating, amid an almost non-existent national grid, have increased more than tenfold — making it impossible for many families to secure electricity for themselves. Many businesses had to shut down.