On 27 November, gas stations’ owners initiated their open strike. Like every other person in Lebanon, they ran out of patience. They buy the fuel with dollars, and with the shortage of dollars in the country and the increase in the value of the dollar in the black market, the owners have been exposed to big losses. That’s why they decided to take this surprising action that left many unprepared Lebanese citizens worried.
Before the first day of the strike ended, the Minister of Energy and Water, Nada Boustani Khoury, gave a couple of statements that aimed at reassuring and advising the people and the gas station owners. Her first statement was:
“On Monday, we complete the tender offers to receive gasoline. And after 10 to 15 days, oil installations will import the gasoline and distribute it with only the Lebanese currency.”
Following her statement that cancels the source problem, which is the currency, she issued this warning to the people:
“The Ministry of Energy and Water has worked from the beginning of the Dollar crisis to sell diesel to the citizens by oil installations with just the Lebanese Lira. Therefore, we warn the Lebanese people not to pay in Dollar the companies and traders who claim to be buying the substance in the Dollar currency.”
Nada Boustani Khoury warned the owners that this is not time to increase prices on the citizens and that “we have to bear the losses.” Her statement contradicts the whole idea of the gas stations’ strike. Isn’t their number one claim to be buying fuel with the Lebanese currency?
Finally, the minister declared her surprise about the strikes happening now when the tender for the importation of petrol by the state has come, and she wished that the stations would retreat and not make the Lebanese citizen carry more burdens.
She implied that a blackmail situation has been happening between petrol stations and the citizens with this issue. She told the public to be aware that stations have been pricing diesel for heating in dollars then converting the price to the Lebanese pound on the basis of the dollar exchange rate in the black market.
With these two contradicting stories, it is best for people to be extra careful during this period. Until this crisis is over and solved, Lebanese citizens should stay aware and not fall for any form of exploitation. Any sector may or may not be trying to take advantage of the chaos Lebanon is currently experiencing.
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