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Lebanon raises gasoline prices further

Residents queue outside a gas distribution station to fill gas cylinders in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday, 24 Aug. 2021. [Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Residents queue outside a gas distribution station to fill gas cylinders in Beirut, Lebanon, on 24 August 2021 [Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

Lebanon's energy ministry further raised gasoline prices today, effectively narrowing its fuel subsidy, Reuters reports.

The price of 95-octane gasoline and 98-octane gasoline were raised by more than 37 per cent.

The increase in gasoline prices is to be implemented immediately, an official document showed.

Worsening gasoline shortages across Lebanon have led to hours-long queues to get barely any fuel, with violence sometimes erupting at gas stations.

Hezbollah began bringing Iranian fuel into the country via Syria yesterday, a move it says should ease the crippling energy crisis but which opponents say risks provoking US sanctions.

Lebanon last raised gasoline prices on 22 August. with the central bank all but running out of foreign reserves to fund the fuel subsidy programme.

The price increase does not fully lift the gasoline subsidy, a step expected to take place soon.

"This is the stage before last of lifting the subsidy," Georges Braks, a member of the Petrol Station Owners' syndicate, said. "The subsidy on fuel I imagine from now till the end of the month will go to the last stage and be lifted completely and all fuel will then be non-subsidised."

READ: Iran fuel travel from Syria into Lebanon

The increase in prices will add burdens on a population already reeling from the effects of an economic meltdown dubbed one of the worst depressions of modern history.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) estimates the crisis has so far propelled 78% of the population into poverty.

Lebanon has been winding down a sprawling subsidy programme for the import of basic needs including fuel, medicine and food.

Critics have said the $6 billion programme introduced last year was ill-managed and wasteful.

The government announced earlier this month a cash subsidy card system for more than 500,000 families as it winds in-kind subsidies down.

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