Lebanon to take out $116m in loans for ailing electric grid

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s caretaker government Wednesday approved opening credit lines totaling $116 million to help fix its crippled state electricity grid.

The cash-strapped country for over two years has struggled with rampant power cuts that have crippled much of public life, worsening a broader economic crisis that has pulled over three-quarters of the country’s population into poverty. Today, households only receive about an hour of state electricity per day, with millions now relying on expensive private generator suppliers to power their homes.

Lebanon’s state electricity company has bled state coffers dry for decades, costing the government over $40 billion with annual losses of up to $1.5 billion. The country’s two main power plants have occasionally broken down and require heavy maintenance. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund say restructuring the country’s energy sector is a key reform for the country to pull itself from the mire. Lebanon has instead relied on renewing a fuel barter deal with Iraq.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government agreed to open a credit line of $62 million for a shipment of fuel at the port, and an additional $54 million to provide maintenance for the country’s rundown Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants.

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