Lebanon: Oil importers and gas stations to observe a strike this Thursday
Oil-importing companies, gas stations and oil trucks are poised to observe a general strike Thursday to demand that the government hike the surcharge for the transfer of gasoline and oil-related material to compensate for the increase in fuel prices over the past few weeks.
A portion of the surcharge is given to the oil-importing companies which own the oil rigs. Gas station owners complain that they used to collect 10 percent from the sale of every 20 liters of gasoline. “But when the prices of gasoline rose sharply in the last few months, [our portion of] this surcharge fell to only 4 percent. We want the government to raise our share by at least 7.5 percent,” the Head of the Gas Station Owners Association, Sami Brax, told The Daily Star. Brax said that most if not all gas stations in the country would observe Thursday’s general strike.
Oil-importing companies and owners of oil trucks will also join the strike to press the government to increase the surcharge because the current prices of gasoline are eroding their profits. Meanwhile, public transport unions and taxi drivers are setting the stage for a strike on April 19 to protest against the surge of gasoline prices.
The head of the oil-importing companies association Maroun Chammas said earlier that the prices of gasoline could reach LL39,500 per 20 liters in the coming few weeks if the prices of oil in the international markets continue to rise. Economists fear that increasing gasoline prices could affect the prices of all basic commodities and put the government in an awkward position.
The government recently agreed to raise the minimum wage from LL500,000 to LL675,000 to offset the rising cost of living.