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Rear View – Lebanon in review (27 November 2021)

Rear View – Lebanon in review (27 November 2021)

Lebanese explotion

23 November: Expansion of Russian oil storage in Beirut.

In a joint press conference, the Lebanese and Russian foreign ministers announced that Russian company Rosneft’s oil product storage terminal at the port of Beirut will be modernised and enlarged.

The Lebanese Energy Ministry is welcoming proposals for participation in the project. 

A second Russian company also has plans to expand its Lebanese operations. Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Russian gas company Novatek is looking into hydrocarbon exploration and production “and plans to drill another well in the offshore area early next year.” 

For some Lebanese, Russia is seen as a force that can provide stability. It has in the past offered security and military coordination and investments in Lebanon’s underdeveloped energy sector.

24 November: No justice in University degree scandal.

In November 2020 it was revealed that three Lebanese universities were selling false Masters and Ph.D degrees to Iraqi students. One year later, the Lebanese Education Ministry has yet to arrest, charge or hold anyone accountable.

Former judge Abbas Al-Halabi, the new Education Minister, has formed a committee to investigate the criminal case, but it has yet to take any punitive action. 

According to reports, a Masters degree costs $5,000 and a PhD costs $10,000, which indicates that only Iraqi students from wealthy families took part in the scam. 

The scandal does not involve all universities in Lebanon, only the Modern University of Business & Science, the Islamic University of Lebanon, and Jinan University. Lebanon’s higher education system has not held any of these universities accountable, according to sources.

Lebanon and KSA
Najib Mikati

25 November: Lebanon may soon suspend credit card payments.

Most businesses in Lebanon have suspended the use of credit and debit cards, especially at petrol stations, restaurants, and clothing shops. The inability to collect cash payments from banks has caused credit card fees to skyrocket, ranging from 5% to 15%. 

Supermarkets are some of the only remaining businesses accepting credit cards without high transaction fees. As a result, the percentage of users of these payment cards has increased from 100% to 300% in some areas, according to sources.

This increase comes also influenced by the announcement of Banque du Liban (BDL) of quota 158, which gives the right to citizens to use $200 at the rate of 12,000 LBP when paying by card.

Hassan Ezzeddine, a member of the supermarket unions in Lebanon, said that it wouldn’t be long before supermarkets would need to apply similar high fees, and perhaps suspend card payments too.

25 November: Lebanese government forms electricity committee

Prime Minister Najib Mikati and officials from several departments and entities held a meeting aimed at forming a committee to national handle electricity issues. In attendance were the Finance Minister, the Energy Minister, the World Bank Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha, and the General Manager of the Electricity of Lebanon, Kamal Hayek.

Energy Minister Walid Fayyad reported that the discussions involved electricity regulation, loan repayments and auditing. They also discussed energy and gas refinement, the renewal of distribution contracts, and raising the necessary tariff to cover the costs or part of them.

Building in Lebanon
Lebanese bread

26 November: Price of bread jumps for the 9th time this year

The Lebanese Ministry of Economy has announced the ninth increase in bread prices this year, slowly removing subsidies as the country sinks deeper into an economic and political crisis. Over 90% of the value of the Lebanese currency has been lost.

The price of bread will continue to rise as long as subsidies on fuel and wheat are lifted. The price of the Lebanese currency is now 24.00/25.000 LBP per dollar.

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