January 26, 2012 02:15 AM
The Daily Star

There has been a national outcry, from the south to the north, over the latest electricity problems. People are fed up with the promises and excuses of their leaders regarding an issue that is so vital to their livelihoods.

People are now paying twice for the electricity, once to Electricite du Liban, and another for the generators that supply power to their households and businesses.

The issues at the heart of the problem are now the stuff of general knowledge, and it has become very difficult to convince anyone of excuses anymore.

Yet instead of diverting its resources to finding a solution to this crisis, the Energy Ministry has created a controversy that will only compound the power problem.

Excuses will not fly anymore. There are certain things that are too important to people’s everyday lives to be able to fool them about.

Moreover, the call has been ignored for what should be the backbone of any policy on such a basic resource, that being the creation of a regulatory authority.

None of the crucial parties involved in the issue are ready or able to get caught up in it without the prior existence of a regulatory body.

Failing to form such a body is a guarantee of corruption and chaos in the field of electricity.

Now, the protests that have erupted as an understandable reaction to the desperate nature of the situation have been met with a counterattack from Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement.

Given that the FPM has 10 ministers in the Cabinet, nearly a third of its entirety, Aoun is, in effect, calling for demonstrations against himself.

This cheap rhetoric will neither bring power nor even put any policy that might do so on the right path.

Furthermore, the insinuation from the FPM that it is Muslim areas that are avoiding paying bills is a myth. Rather, the figures show that downloading electricity is a national sport in Kesrouan, the north, the south and the Bekaa. It’s a sickness shared by all the governorates.

The truth is that the failure to abide by regulations in the southern suburbs of Beirut, for example, is minimal compared to that in Kesrouan.

These facts render the suggestion that electricity is a Muslim-Christian issue a dangerous game, bringing differences among the Lebanese to a new high.

If the government and the FPM have any real intention of solving this problem they should desist from this and other political games because the Lebanese can no longer be fooled.

They are very aware of the political dimensions that this issue has taken on and their patience has been exhausted, as it should have been a long time ago.

Let every effort be concentrated on solving this issue, which affects so many livelihoods, away from politics. Otherwise, the current catastrophe will spread until it becomes universal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 26, 2012, on page 7.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Editorial/2012/Jan-26/161082-power-problems.ashx#ixzz1l3N0ITFk
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