Inspectors from the Consumer Protection Directorate of the Ministry of Economy in Lebanon were assaulted after exposing an instance of price manipulation in the Beqaa Governorate.
The inspectors were subjected to “severe physical assault and threats” after they found that a gas station in the village of Nabi Chit had been manipulating prices, the Economy Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The assailants also stole one of the inspectors’ phones and attempted to steal their car as well, according to the statement.
In response, caretaker Economy Minister Raoul Nehme asked security forces to take immediate action and take the necessary measures and hold the perpetrators accountable.
“Any attack on inspectors while they’re carrying out their duty to protect the consumer is an attack on the rights of all citizens to their economic and social security in these difficult circumstances,” the Ministry stressed.
With the continued devaluation of the Lebanese pound and the prevailing economic instability, there have been increased efforts by the authorities to combat the monopolization and misuse of subsidized goods as well as the illegal manipulation of prices.
A lot of the focus recently shifted to gas stations due to the rise in violations by their owners, some of whom have resorted to severely rationing their fuel reserves while others, in some instances, closed temporarily, citing the volatile exchange rate.