28 April 2016, 02:00

The Syrian encampments are costing Lebanon some $400 million dollars in electricity expenses, ministerial sources told An Nahar daily on Thursday.

The cabinet discussed on Wednesday a suggestion that was brought up by the Energy Ministry to install electricity meters in the Syrian encampments in a bid to trim down illegal connection on power cables which is burdening the Lebanese treasury with significant costs, the sources said.

The annual power consumption by the Syrian encampments totals around $400 million in a country that already has a problem with electricity.

The suggestion did not meet the approval of Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi who told the daily al-Joumhouria: “Anything that could lead to the naturalization of Syrians in Lebanon or give them a legitimate character is rejected.”

Lebanon is plagued with frequent power cuts because of outdated and damaged infrastructure.

Local generator companies have filled the gap by providing power when state electricity cuts off — but they often charge exorbitant prices.

The poor condition of the state’s power infrastructure has been a major source of public frustration.

Lebanon is home to more than one million registered Syrian refugees, or nearly a quarter of the country’s 4.5 million people. Lebanese officials say that another half a million Syrians live in the country as well.