BEIRUT

Editorial

Minister in power

  • This Jan. 2, 2007 file photo shows the Zahrani power plant. (Mohammed Zaatari/The Daily Star)

In Lebanon’s 15 years of civil war, citizens came to expect power cuts, as infrastructure was destroyed and maintenance fell by the wayside.

With survival their main concern, people learned to deal with such a situation.

But the war ended 22 years ago, and after spending more than $12 billion, not only has power not been restored to meet the country’s needs, it has witnessed deterioration in recent years.

The Lebanese are the only people in a country of such standards who pay twice to obtain power: once to the government, and once to those who control the country’s generators. Between those two there has now been shown to be an evil degree of collusion.

Over the years of this flagrant scandal all we have heard is promises of reform and more allocations to rectify the situation, without any concrete change.

That was until the country got its new energy minister who, since he took office, has not offered anything to suggest a glimmer of hope for the situation.

Instead he has threatened more rationing, and blackmailed the government and its institutions into getting his way, ruining the ministry and its finances.

In this he has been backed by a government of one color that needs the political support of his movement. As a result the minister is able to ignore the interests of the people as long as this government still exists.

This should have been rectified with the removal long ago of the government which exists on deception, cronyism and corruption on a scale not seen before.

The way power generation has been operating recently would lead any person with a sense of ethics, responsibility, nationalism or decency to offer his resignation.

Indeed the resignation of the minister involved is hardly enough. Anywhere else in the world a whole government would have gone home in shame at what they are doing to this country.

In Lebanon, the people receive only more excuses, amid reports that the minister involved was recently occupied with attending football matches in Ukraine under the guise of meeting officials.

The damage that this state of affairs is doing to the country cannot be overstated. Lacking a sense of decency, the country’s politicians are inflicting this dire situation upon their people across all boundaries of region, sect and class.

The Lebanese have rarely been united as they have been over this ongoing saga, in which they are all victims of the whims of the energy minister and the government as a whole.

All indications are that the country faces a hopeless task trying to rectify this situation.

The decent reaction to all this would be for the minister – if not the entire Cabinet – to tender a resignation and to seek the forgiveness of the Lebanese people, whose seemingly endless woes are only increasing.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 20, 2012, on page 7.
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