Cabinet approves Bassil’s power plan

Following Monday’s cabinet session, Information Minister Tarek Mitri announced that the government approved Energy Minister Gebran Bassil’s plan to further develop the electricity sector and meet Lebanon’s energy needs by 2015.

According to the information minister, the overall goal of the plan is to increase productive capacities to cover the current power shortage and develop infrastructure for electricity distribution.

The project aims to guarantee 5000 megawatts of power by 2015 and will be funded from the state budget, the private sector and other donors, he added.

Bassil’s plan comprises 10 initiatives related to electrical infrastructure, energy sources, funding, and the legal framework of the sector, Mitri said.

The project will save the government and the energy sector money, he added.
Mitri said that the plan calls for technical upgrades to the electrical sector’s infrastructure and prioritizes economic forms of energy that are less harmful to the environment, adding that “the plan depends basically on gas and renewable energy such as solar and wind power.”

The project will extend liquid gas pipelines throughout Lebanon, Mitri said, adding that it will improve techniques and standards for controlling consumption as well as restructuring tariffs.

Mitri also said that the ministers asked Bassil to report every six months on the progress of the plan’s implementation.

The energy minister told An-Nahar newspaper yesterday following the session that the “the cabinet made a theoretical achievement, [and] we should now put into practice.”

Also, according to An-Nahar, Labor Minister Boutros Harb and Minister of State Michel Pharaon addressed the issues of the pamphlets distributed in eastern Saida and of the explosion in Zahle on the eve of Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir’s visit to the city.

Prominent figures condemned the pamphlets warning Christians of the area to leave within a week. Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that serious investigations are being led to track down and punish the perpetrators, added the daily.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak renewed his country's warning Monday against any new activist aid flotilla that might try to sail into Gaza from Lebanon.

"About the coming flotilla, we've heard in the media that some organization, probably backed by a terror organization, [is] once again trying to send a vessel into Gaza," Barak told reporters after meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Hezbollah – considered a terrorist organization by the US - on Friday denied reports it was backing an all-women aid flotilla planning to sail from Lebanon to Gaza, saying it did not want to give Israel a pretext to attack the activists.

Barak said Lebanon would be "responsible for whatever vessels or ships coming from its ports and responsible for whatever people are taken with them and boarding those ships."

The comments represented the latest warning from Israel over any effort to circumvent its blockade of Gaza despite international pressure in the wake of a May 31 Israeli commando raid that killed nine Turkish activists aboard a flotilla of aid ships on a blockade-busting bid.

-NOW Lebanon