Prime Minister Saad Hariri will chair a meeting Monday afternoon of a ministerial committee charged with studying a new electricity plan, in the wake of a spat between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces over the proposal.
After FPM-affiliated Energy Minister Nada Boustani presented the plan to Cabinet last month, the ministerial committee was formed on March 21 and given a week to study the plan further.
However, Cabinet and Parliament sessions were briefly postponed after Hariri underwent a heart procedure in Paris last week. He returned to Beirut Thursday evening.
Boustani previously said the plan has two basic goals: “Reduce the financial deficit of Electricite du Liban and improve electricity services to citizens,” which could be achieved by streamlining costs, increasing electricity production and raising the electricity tariff.
Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani, who is affiliated with the LF, said in remarks published Monday by local newspaper Al-Liwaa that the session would focus on hearing Boustani’s comments on how the plan would be executed in its early stages and how it would streamline electricity costs, as well as her responses to ministers’ technical notes on the proposal.
He stressed that the ministers would stick to focusing on technical issues and put aside partisan interests. “There should be quick and calculated solutions … and no going back to the barges solution and increasing production without solving other issues,” Hasbani said, noting that EDL runs on an annual deficit of about $2 billion.
Lebanon relies on two power barges operated by Turkish company Karadeniz off the coast of Lebanon, each producing roughly 340 megawatts a day, to supplement the electricity deficit.
LF and FPM politicians last week traded accusations over Lebanon’s long-broken electricity sector in light of the Energy Ministry’s new plan. LF leader Samir Geagea questioned whether the FPM was equipped to cause a breakthrough in the electricity issue, given the fact that the party has held the Energy Ministry since 2009 to little effect.
FPM officials, including Boustani, argued that Geagea’s comments unfairly and inappropriately denigrated the proposal.
“There are consecutive attacks on the electricity plan from some aiming to confuse the public and create a negative and inaccurate idea,” Boustani tweeted Wednesday. “[I] wish they would keep their comments and questions within the specialized ministerial committee instead of feigning heroism in front of the media. We still reach out to cooperate on a solution that would make all Lebanese people happy.”