The Economy Ministry adjusted the size and price of both large and small bread bundles, resulting in a 9 and 15 percent per-gram price increase, respectively. (Credit: AFP)
The Economy Ministry raised the price of bread for the second time this month, citing increased raw material costs due to the depreciation of the lira. Large bundles will grow to 960 grams and cost LL3,000, a 9 percent price hike per gram, while small packs will grow to 445 grams and cost LL2,000, an effective 15 percent increase. The markup comes as the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization forecast that Lebanon’s population will likely face increased acute food insecurity in the next few months amid soaring inflation and the collapse of the currency.
After Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri clashed Monday over the makeup of a cabinet, Arab leaders called for an end to the political deadlock. The Arab League offered to do whatever is necessary to help end the Lebanese leaders’ feud. From Baabda, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari said the president and premier-designate must put their differences aside for “the higher national interest.” Meanwhile, four of Lebanon’s former prime ministers — Hariri, Fouad Siniora, Najib Mikati and Tammam Salam — said the ball “is in the president’s court.” Meanwhile, Aoun’s parliamentary bloc accused Hariri of seeking a majority in government.
Tarek Bitar began questioning detainees in his investigation into the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion this week, a judicial source told L’Orient Today. Having interrogated 10 detainees on Monday, the judge heard the testimonies of four military officers yesterday — Army Intelligence Brig. Gen. Antoine Salloum, State Security Maj. Joseph Naddaf and General Security Maj. Daoud Fayad and Maj. Charbel Fawaz — and will question the remaining detainees today and on Friday. Twenty-five people have been in detention in connection with the case for around seven months, without knowing the charges against them.
Amnesty International recorded 25 cases of brutal torture against Syrian refugees, including four minors, while they were in arbitrary detention for terrorism charges. A report published yesterday describes how from 2014 to 2021 the detainees were subjected to beatings with metal rods, electrical cables and plastic pipes, and forced into stress positions for hours on end, among other cruel torture methods. Twenty-six detainees were also refused a lawyer during initial questioning, the watchdog said. Lebanon passed an anti-torture law in 2017, but human rights groups say it has never been fully implemented.
Parliamentary committees approved a draft law that aims to recover defrauded and embezzled public assets. The law would create a special committee to establish how to return assets and money that the judiciary has proved were obtained via corruption, and a national fund to manage the recuperated assets, Finance and Budget Committee member Nicholas Nahas told L’Orient Today. However, members of the body responsible for identifying and referring cases of corruption to the judiciary in the first place, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, have never been appointed, and it remains inactive.
The collapse of a pylon on a major power line for the state electricity company caused disruption to the grid nationwide. Électricité du Liban said that the 220-kilovolt transmission line, which connects the Deir Ammar power plant to the Bekaa, Beirut and the south, went offline after a combination of high winds and the theft of metal supports brought down the pylon. Other towers are also at risk of falling due to the theft of metal parts, EDL said, calling on security forces to step in and warning that repairing the damage takes time.
The union of truck owners at Beirut’s port is set to meet with the caretaker transport minister today to discuss a hike in fees that it says is essential to the trucks’ continued operation, a spokesman said. The owners had announced a strike last week to demand an increase in their earnings, but suspended it after a preliminary agreement with the minister, Michel Najjar. Like many workers in Lebanon, drivers’ earnings are paid at an exchange rate of LL1,500 to the dollar, while operational costs have skyrocketed with the depreciation of the lira, making their work unsustainable.
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca is set to arrive today, in a much-needed boost to Lebanon’s sluggish inoculation campaign, which has administered only 111,556 doses so far. The initial lot will comprise 33,600 doses of the vaccine, allowing the ministry to add new priority groups, including teachers and workers in productive sectors, to the vaccination rollout starting in April, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said. The return to in-person teaching, originally slated for this past Monday, was delayed after the outgoing education minister’s conditions for reopening schools, which included vaccines for staff, went unmet.