Lebanon’s government raises fuel prices amid violence, roadblocks

Cars stand in line at a gas station as they wait to fuel up in Damour, Lebanon

Lebanon’s government raised fuel prices on Tuesday, after agreeing last week to effectively cut fuel subsidies, a move aimed at alleviating crippling shortages but which will increase the pressure on impoverished consumers.

The average price of 95-octane gasoline was set at 61,100 Lebanese pounds ($40.58) per 20 litres, an increase of 15,900 pounds, or 35% higher, the energy ministry said in a document.

Diesel prices were set at 46,100 pounds, up 12,800, or 38%, the document showed.

Lebanon’s central bank said on Monday it would start giving credit lines to import fuel at 3,900 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, a weaker rate than the 1,500 pounds previously offered under the subsidy programme.

However, dollars were changing hands at about 16,700 pounds on Tuesday on the parallel market, one market participant said.

Lebanon is in the throes of a financial crisis described by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history.

Motorists have been queuing for hours to get barely any gasoline for the past few weeks often leading to violent squabbles.

Sporadic roadblocks across Lebanon, with a few protesters blocking roadways by burning garbage containers, have spread in the past few days as frustrations have grown, according to a Reuters witness.

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