Miqati Lashes Out at Bassil, Rejects Leasing Power Vessels

Prime Minister Najib Miqati lashed out at Energy Minister Jebran Bassil concerning the leasing of the power-generating vessels, wondering how Bassil didn’t “understand what the premier wants.”

“They usually read behind the lines. How didn’t they understand something that is really clear,” Miqati told An Nahar newspaper on Wednesday about the Free Patriotic Movement or the Change and Reform bloc of MP Michel Aoun.

On Tuesday, Bassil told An Nahar newspaper after a meeting for the ministerial committee tasked with finding a solution to Lebanon's prolonged electricity crisis that “the premier didn’t reject the power-generating vessels project but he didn’t either make a new suggestion… Frankly, I didn’t understand what the PM wants.”

A sharp difference emerged to the surface between the PM and Bassil over the power-generating ships, which Miqati argues could cost less if Bassil isn’t insisting on the two companies, Turkish and American, that won the tenders.

Miqati said he opposes the leasing of the vessels because the mechanism followed in launching the tenders was wrong.

“There will be no political compromises concerning this matter as it should be done in a transparent and credible way, since it will cost the treasury more than $1 billion over 5 years,” the PM told the daily.

Miqati revealed that he will submit a memorandum to the cabinet that includes the reasons behind his objection.

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday.

Informed sources told al-Liwaa newspaper that the premier is holding onto his opinion as there is still enough time to reach an alternative plan with fewer burdens on the treasury and better conditions.

Lebanon’s lingering electricity crisis has become a burden on citizens after shortages at its power plants whose maximum capacity is less than 1,500 megawatts.

The country’s actual need exceeds 2,300 megawatts.

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