Cars queuing in front of petrol stations are back in the forefront in Lebanon after oil importing companies decided to stop fuel imports and deliveries from Wednesday morning, refusing to add to the exceptional tax. 2024 Budget.
Citizens rush to gas stations early in the morning to fill their car tanks, fearing that they will run out, stations will close their doors or rationalize supply and will be exploited by traders, especially since there is no threat of a crisis. Leave them alone, especially since the economic crisis intensified in late 2019.
Several gas station owners in northern Beirut confirmed to al-Arabi al-Jadeed: “So far the material is available, there is enough stock, the fuel distributors have confirmed that they will continue to supply it, but of course it will take a long time for the companies to decide, we are approaching a real crisis when the quantities run out.”
Oil importing companies opposed the exceptional tax in the 2024 budget approved by the House of Representatives last Friday evening, which includes companies benefiting from the support policy in times of crisis and a banking base linked to the Central Bank of Lebanon.
The companies explained in a statement yesterday, Tuesday, that the onset of the financial crisis in Lebanon at the end of 2019 and the failure of the Lebanese government to meet its financial obligations led to an increase in the currency exchange rate against the dollar. The Lebanese pound and the Ministry of Energy and Water continue to publish tables to establish the sale of liquid fuels… Lebanese consumers, by setting the sale price of fuel in Lebanese pounds without taking into account the real exchange rate, import companies, gasoline, diesel and domestic gas products in dollars instead of pounds “butane, propane” and asked the ministry to sell it at a price so that they can continue to pay foreign suppliers and continue to import these products. Local market.
The companies added: “The Ministry of Energy rejected this request and decided to continue charging these products to consumers in Lebanese pounds according to the official price list. The Lebanese government asked the Bank of Lebanon to protect the dollar for importing companies. In order to reduce the burden of the high dollar exchange rate on Lebanese consumers, a certain Within the mechanism, at the exchange rate approved in the price set table.
In their statement, the companies recalled the consumer support mechanism adopted by the Lebanese government in consultation and coordination with the Bank of Lebanon, noting that “the exclusive and sole beneficiary of the subsidy for gasoline, diesel and domestic gas (butane, propane) is the Lebanese consumer, and there is no other party besides him,” noting that oil Import companies only act as mediators between the Lebanese government and consumers to implement the support mechanism adopted by the government and do not benefit from the support.
He said, “Consumers buy goods in Lebanese pounds, and companies deposit the amount in Lebanese pounds in a Lebanese bank, the latter convert this amount into US dollars, and according to the support policy, companies can buy the goods again. Abroad, no US dollars enter the accounts of companies based on the support mechanism.
“There is no increase in the net profit margin of importing companies, penalty or tax and its current rate or exceptional tax or penalty, and the margin has remained the same. Before and after the crisis until today.”
“Recognition of distribution in connection with imposition of exceptional penalty or tax leads to destruction and inevitable closure of the sector, and in all cases is not a proper realistic, legal, tax and constitutional place, and is impossible to implement, and it disguises expropriation of importing companies by providing fictitious amounts of tax costs. .
Accordingly, the companies have announced that they will stop the supply of petrol, diesel and gas from this morning, and then stop importing once the stocks are exhausted, failing which solutions are found, as a precautionary measure until the issue is resolved. Ready to open their doors even on Sundays to secure quantities for the local market.
Meanwhile, a syndicate of owners and investors of domestic gas filling plants in Lebanon condemned the decision to cut off gas supplies due to fines imposed on importing companies.
He said: “We as a trade union regret and condemn after the importing companies announced the forced stoppage of gas imports and distribution, forcing companies to pay fines for the past several years these actions issued by the authorities and people's representatives. The fuel subsidies of the Bank of Lebanon were imposed on the companies. “Imported Companies have to sell as per subsidy and as per price mix schedule published by Ministry of Energy. As gas companies, volumes were regulated. Importing companies ordered from the Bank of Lebanon, we sold them at 1,500 liras according to the subsidized price mix schedule, and we bought them at black market prices with our expenses paid.
He added: “Our losses were great because of the currency and price difference, and the Bank of Lebanon did not allow free imports and pricing in dollars, except through its procedures. In light of our fears about the dire conditions and events in this country, dragging the country into war and closing the sea, by the authorities We are surprised that it will be closed.” They have no choice but to import companies that do not cut off from the country's needs under worst-case conditions.In light of the winter weather and the demand for gas for heating, hospitals and institutions are all at the mercy of random decisions.
“Importing companies should stop protecting the country and reconsider this issue so as not to create unnecessary crisis,” the union demanded.
For its part, the Hospital Syndicate should exempt the oil importing companies from its end and return to immediate delivery of what the patients need in order to save their lives.
Last Friday, the Lebanese parliament approved the 2024 budget, which is full of reform articles and measures to prevent tax evasion and constitutional and legal violations, while placing a huge tax burden on the most vulnerable and poor groups and employees. Income tax on their salaries and wages of around 60 percent, disability, to deprive them of any social security benefits or fair end-of-service compensation.